A parody that is good? Alright let's review this.
I love good parodies, but they sadly are so hard to find in movies these days, yet here we are talking about Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, a parody of concert documentaries (mainly Justin Bieber's concert docs) that successfully hits more than it misses. In many ways this feels like a spiritual successor to great comedies like This is Spinal Tap, or Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story considering the source of humor (one's a parody of concert documentaries, the next is a parody of musician biopics, while this lampoons, well concert docs again, but modern ones which have somewhat of a different flavor compared to the ones from the past) which, makes this automatically stand out against the current competition in the best way possible, it's hilarious.
Popstar follows Conner4Real (Andy Samberg) during his world tour, which follows the release of his newest (and critically panned) album. We view Conner's struggles, while his best friend and former boyband group member, Owen (Jorma Taccone), tries reuniting Conner with Lawrence (Akiva Schaffer), a former member of Conner's original group, Style Boyz (for the record, all three are a part of an actual group called The Lonely Island), with poor results. Will the band get together? Will Conner learn his lessons? Will he make silly celebrity choices/mistakes? The answers should be obvious, but it's okay that it is.
The most important part of any parody is successfully recreating the mood and atmosphere of what is being lampooned, that's how the joke works, we laugh because we see this very accurate thing get turned into something silly. Popstar successfully recreates the mood and vibe of concert films... For the most part, admittedly some of it feels off, but to its credit, the movie remains funny enough to counter that. Where the movie perhaps gets a bit too silly, is the music (just to be clear I like all the songs here, The Lonely Island are great at making hilarious songs) I can believe the bulk of the movie's soundtrack being ridiculous, after all, the movie primarily focuses on Conner's second (also disastrous) album, but once we hear some of his "classic" work, mainly with the Style Boyz, the film doesn't really change the tone of the songs, they're just as stupid, but I suppose it's fine because they're not as offensives the songs in the second album? Maybe I'm just not too aware of what gets popular now (I'll admit, I don't follow the music business as closely as I follow movies) but I just feel the songs could've benefited the movie more, if there were a few more songs that sounded a bit more like legitimate songs out right now, rather than all the songs sound incredibly silly; how low can the bar be if a song about stupid thoughts (like what a fish would sound like if it could talk) being considered "incredible" is high art, but suddenly a song about gay marriage rights that is perhaps not as well-intentioned as it is meant to be (okay it morphs into a song denying Conner as a homo-sexual) is low art? My point here is that the songs have one key difference, one is just dumb, the other is dumb and offensive. I'll admit my thoughts on the songs are largely nitpicks as I did laugh with each song, I just feel that's where the parody aspect falters a bit, but thankfully not enough where the mood is lost.
This movie isn't just funny, it's flat-out hilarious, one of the funnier movies I've seen in recent memory, with a good succession of jokes coming at a rapid fire pace, at least for the first half. If there's one area of the movie that I consider to be a real weakness (remember, my comments on the music are more like nitpicks) is that the second half slows the succession of great jokes, they're still there, but the movie slows down, which unfortunately makes the whole movie feel longer than it is (a brief 86 minute run), which does keep it from being better than the likes of Spinal Tap or Walk Hard, instead it sits comfortably, but slightly below those two gems, which is not a bad spot honestly. Perhaps a second viewing would change my mind, but from my standpoint I do think the second half needed a few more jokes, instead Popstar is left with a first half that is hysterical, and a second act that is just funny.
I miss parodies on the big-screen, what I mean is good ones, which makes me thankful for Popstar, it's the kind of movie I've been missing for quite a while. While it sits just below the likes of Spinal Tap and Walk Hard, Popstar is still hilarious, after all, the other two are comedic masterpieces, so I won't fault a movie that fails to live up to those exact standards. I highly recommend watching this sooner, than later, because admit it you've been waiting for a great parody too, which is reason enough to watch this.
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Written By Octaviano Macias