Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
The world of fame is a fascinating subject to delve into. Recently, with the help of social media, we’ve been able to dive much more into the lives of the celebrities we admire (or hate). The TV show Entourage tried to touch on the subject of fame, but was too focused on showing us a pair of boobs and a cameo; last year’s documentary Amy, on the ill-fated singer Amy Winehouse, was a much better exploration into that world. This year’s film Popstar: Never Stop, Never Stopping is a surprisingly intriguing ridicule of our musical celebrities and the way they lead their lives.
Popstar: Never Stop, Never Stopping is a mockumentary on the fictional singer Connor4Real (Andy Samberg). Connor started out with a hit hip-pop band called Style Boyz, but after a falling out he went solo to great success. However, the release of his newest album gets terrible reviews (a shit emoji from Rolling Stone among others), much to Connor’s surprise. The mockumentary shows us interviews with all of Connor’s different staff members, the most prominent of which include Owen (Jorma Taccone) his DJ and former Style Boyz member, Paula (Sarah Silverman) his publicist, and Harry (Tim Meadows) his manager. Throughout the film we get some great cameos which were not overutilized (something Entourage could learn), and whose diversity ranged from Usher, Snoop Dogg, and Adam Levine to Ringo Starr, Jimmy Fallon, and Martin Sheen.
The great thing that stood out in the film is the choice of making it in a documentary form. It perfectly fits the mold of the arrogance that exuberates from many young celebrities of today (ahem Justin Bieber ahem), and it allows for so much freedom for the filmmakers. It also makes fun of the self-produced documentaries that many singers release themselves (Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, One Direction).
The screenplay comes from The Lonely Island, which is the name that Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone, and Andy Samberg gave themselves when performing on Saturday Night Live. Taccone and Schaffer also directed the film, and it really plays out much like the sketches that they wrote and directed for the late night show. I think it’s because of this that the film feels so spontaneous and hilarious; the filmmakers have had years of practice with the best comedians mocking pop culture. The story itself is as generic and goofy as the jokes that are put out, but to the credit of The Lonely Island, I think that this is extremely intentional, as a further ridicule of the upbeat endings that celebrity propaganda give us. The songs themselves are a whole different branch of the comedy in itself, making fun of the inspiration and messages that are ubiquitous in the music of today.
I don’t want you to think that I’m putting this film up on a pedestal; it isn’t a perfect movie. But I do think it’s an extremely unique comedy for the film world of today, and I do commend the filmmakers for taking many risks with the film, which I think ended up paying off. In the end Popstar plays out like a great SNL comedy sketch that has been extended, it’s a great time and a necessary self-criticism.