Typical. You wait years for a music mockumentary to be released and two come out at once. Handily, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is the better one – and it’s not even close.
Conner4real is the mega-est megastar on the planet. He’s got a legion of fans (his Connfidants), a personal chef who’ll prepare his carrots eight different ways, and a dozen Adam Levine holograms on backing vocals. And it’s all about to go wrong. Popstar has a simple hook, on which Samberg and co-everythingers Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer can hang all manner of setups and payoffs.
The trio’s relationship ensures that even when the jokes aren’t landing, Popstar is still a good time – with much of that down to Samberg. His Conner might take a dump in the bathroom of Anne Frank’s house but he’s still a lovable manchild, never too far from the dopey, shell-suited boyband member he’s trying to forget. He just has to experience a relatively straightforward 90 minutes to realise it.
Popstar is a chance for the trio to make a play for a bigger slice of the mainstream. Yet the glut of celebrity cameos like Simon Cowell and Usher mean that more esoteric former SNL players just hover in the background offering some underused weirdness (Bill Hader’s Flatliners-loving roadie feels like someone with too much material on the cutting-room floor). But any film that has Seal (the singer) being attacked by wolves (the animal) is never going to be too conventional. Just funny.
No music mockumentary can resist comparison with This Is Spinal Tap (and no review can resist making it) but Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping does a pretty fantastic job of updating the expectations, the personalities and the music to today.
CAST: Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, Akiva Schaffer, Sarah Silverman
DIRECTORS: Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone
WRITERS: Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone
SYNOPSIS: When his new album fails to sell records, pop/rap superstar conner4real goes into a major tailspin and watches his celebrity high-life begin to collapse. He’ll try anything to bounce back – anything except reuniting with his old rap group The Style Boyz.