Popstar Never Stop Never Stopping review: Skewers the silly excesses of the music industry
Film Review: Popstar (Never Stop Never Stopping)

Matthew Turner delivers his verdict on the entertaining mockumentary

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Mockumentary comedy about former boyband member turned superstar solo artist Conner4Real, whose career stumbles with the release of his second album

Directors: Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone
Starring: Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, Akiva Schaffer, Sarah Silverman
Genre: Comedy
Country: USA
Release date: August 23
Cert: 15
Running time: 87 mins

This smartly observed mockumentary is the latest film from comedy trio The Lonely Island (Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone), whose previous output includes an array of very funny spoof music videos (such as’ Lazy Sunday’ and ‘Dick in a Box’), as well as the under-rated feature comedy Hot Rod.

Taking more than a little inspiration from This Is Spinal Tap, the splendidly titled Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping takes a series of well-aimed potshots at today’s music, entertainment and gossip industries with frequently hilarious results, even if some of the jokes occasionally feel a little over-familiar.

A lot of fun

Samberg stars as pop superstar Conner4Real, who found fame as a member of boyband the Style Boyz alongside childhood friends Lawrence and Owen (co-directors Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone).

When the band splits, Lawrence becomes a reclusive farmer, while Conner embarks on a successful solo career, with Owen serving as his on-stage DJ (using just an iPod).

However, when his new single is poorly received and his second album tanks, Conner is forced into a series of disastrous publicity stunts, culminating in a tour that gets over-shadowed by scheming supporting act Hunter the Hungry (Chris Redd).

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The comedy songs are as good as you’d expect from The Lonely Island, with highlights including ‘Equal Rights’ (a plea for gay marriage, with Conner repeatedly proclaiming his straight credentials) and ‘Bin Laden’ (“F**k me like the military f**ked Bin Laden”).

Similarly, the script has a lot of fun skewering the sillier excesses of the music industry, such as Conner keeping a “perspective manipulator” to make him look taller in his entourage, or employing a man to punch him in the nuts every day to remind him where he came from.

Wardrobe malfunctions, publicity stunt weddings and ridiculous sponsorship deals all prove particularly rewarding targets.

Pleasingly high gag rate

Samberg, Taccone and Schaffer are all superb, with Samberg managing to be likeable even when Conner’s diva-ish behaviour is appalling.

There’s also strong comic support from a cast pulled from Samberg’s Saturday Night Live buddies (including Justin Timberlake as Conner’s personal chef), as well as an impressive line-up of actual music stars to serve as talking heads. Hardly any of them are actually given anything funny to say, however, which feels at best like a bit of a waste – and at worst like a parade of celebrity mates.

The plot won’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s seen This Is Spinal Tap (or any of its subsequent imitators), but the directors maintain a pleasingly high gag rate that ensures plenty of decent laughs.

Worth seeing?

This is a consistently entertaining mockumentary enlivened by some superb songs, a series of inspired gags and terrific comic performances. Recommended.

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