The big question going into Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping was if the Lonely Island could make the jump from three-to-five minute sketches on Saturday Night Live to a feature length film. Could they succeed in making an entertaining movie like Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele did with Keanu?
The answer is no.
Written and produced by the Lonely Island trio Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone and directed by the latter two, the mockumentary focuses on Conner Friel’s (Andy Samberg) rise, fall and comeback in the world of pop music.
To the film’s credit, it starts out strong. By the twenty-minute mark, however, the shtick gets old. The humor lacks intelligence and is too referential to be relevant in a couple years. Instead of developing its main three protagonists, Popstar tries to drown its audience with useless cameos that add nothing to the film except take screen time away from actual characters. If the film is trying to parody the superficiality of the popstar persona with its characters, it has succeeded. However, the reason why the public is so enamored by Connor is never explained. Had the film committed to parodying both popstars and the society that loves them, the comedy could have been more effective. Instead, Popstar is an okay digital short that was unnecessarily made into a bad film.
Given the nature of Popstar, it is fruitless to try and make sense of the plot. Nonetheless, there are clear weaknesses in the film’s pacing. Connor’s fall from fame took too long to execute and the final act comeback felt rushed. Even though the film is just under 90 minutes, it feels inexplicably long. The only thing that could have saved the film was the music, but the film’s best song “Humble” was played in the first ten minutes. Every other song was forgettable at best.
If you are a fan of the Lonely Island’s digital shorts, then this film might be for you. For anyone who values their time and money, this film is definitely not for you.
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping was released on June 3, 2016.