Playing Catch-Up: Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (dir by Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone)


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)

Mona Lisa

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.

Guilty Pleasure No. 24: Walk of Shame (dir by Steven Brill)


I was recently looking over what some of my fellow movie bloggers consider to be the worst films of 2014 and imagine my surprise when I saw that almost all of them had found room to list a little comedy called Walk of Shame.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m not going to argue that Walk of Shame was a great movie or anything like that.  Essentially, it was a dumb comedy that was full of plot holes.  For the most part, it was a film that was specifically designed to appeal to neurotic white people from the suburbs.  Then again, I am a neurotic white girl from the suburbs so maybe that’s why, despite all of the critical disdain and moralistic posturing that was directed towards Walk of Shame, I actually liked it.

In Walk of Shame, Elizabeth Banks plays Meghan, a local TV new correspondent who is being considered for a job with the national network.  However, soon after being informed of this, Meghan returns to her apartment and discovers that her boyfriend has left her.  Then she gets a call informing her that the network is leaning towards another candidate.  Depressed, Meghan puts on a skin-tight yellow dress, goes out to a club with her best friend (Gillian Jacobs), ends up drinking way too much (much like me, Meghan doesn’t have much of a tolerance when it comes to alcohol), and finally ends up meeting an aspiring writer named Gordon (Jason Marsden) and going back to his apartment with him.

The scenes where Meghan and Gordon drunkenly fool around before eventually having sex are actually surprisingly fun. Marsden and Banks have a really playful chemistry throughout this entire film.  You like both of their characters and it’s fun to see them together.  In fact, Jason Marsden, who I had previously assumed was a bad actor on the basis of his work in The Butler and Straw Dogs, gives a truly charming performance in his film, turning Gordon into both the ideal one night stand and the ideal boyfriend.

The next morning, Meghan gets a call informing her that the network has decided against the other candidate and they want to interview her for the job.  She’s told that she only has a few hours to get down to the station.  After sneaking out of Gordon’s apartment, Meghan discovers that not only has her car been towed but her purse and all of her money was also in the backseat.  (Not to mention the fact that she left her phone back in Gordon’s apartment…)  So now, still wearing that yellow dress, Meghan has to try to make her way across Los Angeles, get back her car, and get to her interview in time.

And, of course, this means that Meghan has to deal with drug dealers, simple-minded policemen, and snooty bus drivers.  Admittedly, there’s not a single problem that Meghan couldn’t have solved through the use of common sense but sometimes you have to be willing to cut a film a little slack.

Walk of Shame has a lot of flaws but I still enjoyed it, mostly because I’ve been there.  I may not have been there to the extreme that Meghan finds herself being there but I’ve still been there.  Elizabeth Banks is one of my favorite actresses and her chemistry with Jason Marsden generates enough good will to help the film get over a few rough patches.

And, for that reason, Walk of Shame is my favorite guilty pleasure of 2014.

Previous Guilty Pleasures

  1. Half-Baked
  2. Save The Last Dance
  3. Every Rose Has Its Thorns
  4. The Jeremy Kyle Show
  5. Invasion USA
  6. The Golden Child
  7. Final Destination 2
  8. Paparazzi
  9. The Principal
  10. The Substitute
  11. Terror In The Family
  12. Pandorum
  13. Lambada
  14. Fear
  15. Cocktail
  16. Keep Off The Grass
  17. Girls, Girls, Girls
  18. Class
  19. Tart
  20. King Kong vs. Godzilla
  21. Hawk the Slayer
  22. Battle Beyond the Stars
  23. Meridian