If anyone was going to bring a mockumentary to the big screen and a mainstream audience, it was going to be The Lonely Island. The trio of Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, and Akiva Schaeffer almost single-handedly saved Saturday Night Live from falling into obscurity with their brilliant digital sketches. The best of which were almost all music videos. It’s surprising it took them this long to jump to the big screen.
Popstar follows Connor4Real (Samberg) a worldwide superstar who is fresh off his first solo album. He’s about to start a world tour to promote the release of his second album, Connquest. It flops, but the show must go on despite Connor’s fragile ego and increasingly ridiculous stunts to get back on top of the music world.
It appears at first that Connor is Justin Bieber. From his musical prodigy drummer beginnings to that ridiculous all white ensemble he’s wearing in the poster. But Popstar isn’t content to just rip on Bieber. No facet of popular music goes untouched here. From EDM to Macklemore to Kanye and whatever else you want to find, Connor is all their worst attributes combined. Like when he pulls a U2 and gets an appliance company to play his song every time someone opens their fridge or microwave. Not willingly of course, the company puts it into the appliances without consent and causes a major blackout across the US.
It’s all hilarious. Connor is the representation of all we hate in the music stars we love. He’s how we expect they act in private. Like having a retinue of 36 personal staff. Two of which are umbrella wranglers. Or like hiring a bunch of wolves to be present at your pre-arranged televised proposal ceremony. Of course they get loose.
The films strongest moment though, comes at the expense of Macklemore’s iconic anthem, Same Love. Connor makes a music video about how he’s not gay but if he was he’d really want equal rights. But he’s not. Cuz he’s straight. Like super straight, you guys. No homo, but there’s no problem if there is homo. It’s one of the best Lonely Island music videos to date. At least one hundred times in the song, Connor turns to the camera to say “Not Gay.” He also pauses to point out all the straight things he does, like sports and chicken wings. God, it’s funny.
The film kind of loses steam from there. Only one other song is really that memorable (This girl wants to fuck me like the US fucked Bin Laden.) It’s still amusing, watching Connor fall from stardom and begin to remember where he came from: a loose parody of the Beastie Boys known as the Style Boyz. The final song is so forgettable it didn’t even matter to me that Michael Bolton was a part of it. I can’t remember a single lyric from it. The brightest part about the second half of the film is the addition of crazy-eyed rapper Hunter (Chris Redd) who provides a much needed unpredictability.
Popstar is still a hilarious movie from start to finish. Although it meanders from all the subjects it wants to lambast, it still has a nice focus on friendship above all at the end. It’s an updated This is Spinal Tap, but without the cult status. Even though I won’t be watching it again, it’s a clear showcase of the comedic and musical talents of The Lonely Island crew. They should make more movies.
2 1/2 out of 4 stars.