Tyler Ku’ulani Lopez
Modern society is dictated by the fickle whims of anonymous internet activists. Popularity is completely controlled by the thoughts of random, faceless autonomicals that decide what is funny, sad, stupid, or funny and that decides what everyone else will think too. I mean in today’s modernistic society anybody can have a website and an opinion and put it out as official reviews like they know what they’re talking about. Seriously like anybody. Anybody in the whole freaking world. If you want a hilarious satirical movie that tackles what it’s like to be a celebrity today and how social media has changed their lives while also giving you a ridiculous soundtrack then Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is a movie that you could perhaps maybe possibly enjoy. P.S.- Don’t take your kids to this. Seriously I don’t know what would make you think it was appropriate, but it’s definitely not. Not even close. There’s not a moment where I thought “hey you know a pre-teen or younger child would benefit from this movie experience”. Not a moment when I thought that while watching the movie. Nope. Okay.
1 – Writing: 8/10
Damn solid. That’s what I’d classify the writing as. I mean surprisingly solid even. Shockingly solid? No not that solid. Surprisingly is probably as far as I’d go. The movie is more than just an extended Lonely Island music video. It’s actually a cleverly written mockumentary about life as a star… AND an extended Lonely Island music video!
2 – Direction: 8/10
Nothing too crazy, but decent enough. This one is directed by Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone. You might not recognize the names, but they’re the other two guys in Lonely Island besides Andy Samberg. They do a great job of creating a unique tone that feels a lot like every Lonely Island music video… in a good way.
3 – Cinematography: 7/10
Won’t spend too long here because Akiva and Jorma didn’t. Oooooooh. Burn! In yo’ (they) face(s)! Seriously though there’s nothing especially moving about the shots in the movie, but it’s not necessary.
4 – Acting: 8/10
Is that a little bit high for a movie like this? Yes. Yes it absolutely is. I probably should rate it lower, but these guys aren’t real actors and the fact that they can make you connect for even a moment with their ludicrous fictional characters is a testament to their effort. They exceeded my expectations and if I remember anything about letter grades from elementary school, that’s what a “B” is. It’s what I strive for in every review!
5 – Editing: 6/10
This is probably my biggest problem with the movie. It gets slow in stretches while Akiva and Jorma try to connect the audience to the characters. There’s moments that feel too long and other moments that aren’t long enough. To their credit though (and the reason it’s not a lower grade) the directors give you something fun to bring you back in when things get slow.
6 – Sound: 7/10
It was cool. Cool kids might still say it was “dope”. There was some sound effects and effort put in. Stuff. Things. Words. Bleep boop. I do great movie reviews!
7 – Soundtrack/Music: 10/10
Okay so I took it easy on the last rating to get to this one. That’s right. A perfect score because I am preposterously biased and I find Lonely Island songs fun even if they’re mostly incredibly stupid. Not every song in the movie is meant to be loved, but if Lonely Island has ever done anything it’s make you appreciate music and lyrics that have no business being appreciated. As a minor spoiler: it’s all new music!
8 – Production Design: 8/10
Thoroughly above average! There was a lot of concert pieces that could have looked awful, but ended up looking completely plausible. Again… the rating may be skewed because I was expecting Saturday Night Live quality in a movie. It surpassed that expectation though and there were a number of different settings that could have been mishandled.
9 – Casting: 9/10
Like anything Lonely Island, they find a way to get a terrific group of people to join in their fun. There were as many cameos as you’d expect, probably a few more even. The actual characters that are presented though are all played admirably. Obviously Andy, Jorma, and Akiva are all great, but Sarah Silverman and Tim Meadows do their typical great job too of being funny and yet accessible. Chris Redd is pretty great as Hunter the rapper as well.
10 – Effects: 7/10
Stinks to end on an average note, but to be fair there wasn’t much to do on the effects end. There were some solid effects, but nothing really memorable because nothing was really necessary.
Overall Score: 7.8/10
I am utterly shocked at my score! There’s no way the score could end up being that when I thought it would be something else! Nah that sounds right actually. I recommend this movie! Hey it isn’t going to win an Oscar or a Grammy or a Poppy, but it also won’t win a Razzie so that’s good. If you enjoy Lonely Island music and Andy Samberg then you’re probably going to like this movie. If you don’t enjoy that music, then there’s still a solid commentary on how social media affects stardom and negatively impacts the lives of famous people. There’s also a decent, if cliche, character arch of three friends who fall out because one friend gets a big head (like Josh from middle school… dammit Josh). If you don’t like any of those things, then you’re probably not going to like this movie and it would be pretty strange that you bought a ticket in the first place.