Have you heard of Conner4Real?
If you haven’t, you’re probably just old or else you don’t keep up with what’s happening in the world of popular music. His real name is Conner Friel and he used to be a member of the Style Boyz. Of course, the Style Boyz eventually broke up. Kid Brain became a farmer. Kid Contact became a DJ. And Kid Conner — well, he became Conner4Real and he became a bigger star as a solo artist than he ever was as a Style Boy. His debut album, Thriller, Also, broke records.
But the follow-up, Connquest … well, Connquest wasn’t quite as acclaimed. In fact, it was hated by just about everyone. This is despite featuring classic songs like:
Finest Girl (Bin Laden Song)
and Equal Rights (featuring P!nk).
Fortunately, when Conner4Real was facing his greatest existential crisis, a film crew was present to record his struggle. For those of us who were fascinated by the career of Conner4Real, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is a chance to see how Conner dealt with everything from his terminally ill pet turtle to the elaborate marriage proposal ceremony that led to Seal being attacked by wild wolves. We would have gotten to see Conner and his manager defeat a swarm of mutant bees but, unfortunately, that happened right after the only time that Conner’s manager asked the film crew to stop filming.
Oh well, these things happen.
So, as you should have guessed from all that, Popstar is not a serious film. It’s a mockumentary, with the emphasis on mock. It was also one of the funniest films of 2016, a spot-on parody of the silliness and pretensions of fame. Conner is a combination of Justin Bieber and Macklemore at their shallowest, a well-meaning but thoroughly empty-headed singer. In fact, if Conner was played by anyone other than Andy Samberg, he would be so annoying that the film would run the risk of being unwatchable.
But fortunately, Conner is played by Andy Samberg. It’s hard to think of anyone who plays dumb with quite the same panache as Andy Samberg does. There are plenty of lines in Popstar that shouldn’t work but they do, specifically because they’re being delivered by Samberg. He brings just the right amount of sweetly sincere stupidity to the role. Almost despite yourself, you find yourself hoping that things will work out for Conner and the other Style Boyz. Conner may not deserve to be as big a star as he is but it was obviously going to happen to some idiot so why not a sincere one?
Samberg is not the only funny person in Popstar. The movie is full of funny people, from Sarah Silverman to Bill Hader to the always underrated Tim Meadows. It’s also full of celebrity cameos and I have to admit that I usually tend to cringe when I see too many people playing themselves. But in Popstar, it works. One need only rewatch something like Zoolander 2 to see how well Popstar pulls off its celebrity cameos.
Sadly, as funny as Popstar was, it was also one of the biggest bombs of 2016. (The trailer, it must be said, did not do the film justice.) However, I expect that it will soon develop a strong cult following. In a few years, we’ll get a sequel. It probably won’t be as as good.
Oh well. These things happen.