SNL veteran Andy Samberg shines in his portrayal of overhyped former boy band member Conner4Real. Presented as a mockumentary filled with allusions to Justin Bieber and Kanye West, the film spans the rise and decline of its egotistic protagonist’s solo rap career as he grapples with his overnight loss of popularity.
Directors Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, who make up two thirds of The Lonely Island, capture celebrity debauchery with an abundance of crude humor in a manner true to producers Judd Apatow (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up) and Rodney Rotham’s (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, 22 Jumpstreet) style. Thanks to the comedy’s $21 million budget, Conner’s lavish gatherings and extravagant stadium concerts are convincing, making the mandatory hedonistic party scenes easier to swallow.
Without a doubt, Popstar effectively satirizes the role of public relations in mainstream music. The film’s highlights include lines delivered by Harry (Tim Meadows) and Paula (Sarah Silverman) who are Conner’s manager and publicist respectively. Also, Chris Redd is a riot as outrageous newcomer Hunter the Hungry. His persona is a hilarious foil to Samberg’s fading star. Otherwise, we can enjoy an understated performance from Schaffer as mopey has-been Lawrence.
Make no mistake; Popstar is far from deeply stimulating viewers intellectually. Following exposure to a few of its tired jokes, tasteless groupies and some songs with less-than-stellar verses, brain cell loss is to be expected.
Still, for a summer release, the film raises thought-provoking questions on pop artists’ need to become sellouts in order to be considered household names.Moreover, social media is prominent in the movie and rightfully so. While it serves as a comic relief throughout Conner’s downward spiral, Schaffer and Taccone subtly remind us of our power to shoot anyone into stratospheric fame as well as infamy.
Bottom line: the film’s message is unsurprising, that is not to say embarrassingly sentimental. Yet, through the use of well-timed flashbacks, and amusing cameo appearances, Popstar offers a few laughs to adult audiences beyond the early twenties demographic. Overall, it’s an entertaining distraction for the season.