Universal 86 Minutes R
This contemporary satire is surprisingly effective. It’s a gross, vulgar mocumentary, packed with sketch comedy featuring your favorite performers from the music biz who help expose the outrageous way pop stars chase fame. Even producer Judd Apatow bares all, for a purpose.
The filmmakers got everyone who’s anyone to go in on the joke, from Mariah Carey, Adam Levine and Usher, to Pink, Snoop Dogg, Carrie Underwood and Justin Timberlake. You won’t believe how many famous faces are packed back-to-back in this film. It’s amazing! But the bits are woven into a story. It’s loosely based on pop stars like Justin Bieber and how they craft their public image by making self indulgent propaganda pieces. You’ll also see SNL comedy buds Maya Rudolph and Bill Hader and more, plus Tim Meadows and Sarah Silverman as a publicist!
Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone comprise The Lonely Island, the comedy trio best known for their digital video shorts made for SNL starting back in 2005. They wrote this film together, including almost all of the music. And Schaffer and Taccone co-direct it. Producer Judd Apatow explains that this comedy focuses on making fun of pop stars who make movies about themselves to hype their brand. But in this film, Apatow says, they focus on what it looks like to see a pop star’s life unravel in front of the camera instead of glorify him and his new album. It’s like watching extreme growing pains.
The core of the film is about chasing fame. It’s all about Connor, played by Samberg, who’s known nothing but success and adulation since his fictional Style Boyz Band days with best buds Owen, played by Taccone, and Lawrence, played by Schaffer. Conner’s ego runs amuck and he ditches his buds to grab the spotlight as a rap/pop superstar. But it backfires when he releases a really stinko album. Success has been the only thing that’s driven Connor, but it’s not bringing him a life worth living. Will he find another way to be both a star and a person worth any of it? Yes, there’s actually a story running through all the cameos, comedy and songs.
There is so much original music which the Lonely Island Boys wrote for this film. They’ve come up with outrageously creative lyrics to expose the shallowness of songs by pop stars who think they’re just too cool for the room. Samberg, as Conner4 Real, sings songs with lyrics that show incredible ignorance about a number of issues. Simplistic themes are passed off as important thoughts.
The song about sexual equality which turns into Connor endlessly proclaiming “”I’m not Gay” is spot on.The songs about sexual equality and the song sung by Pink with Conner about LGBT is hilarious. Even Producer Judd Apatow says that one may be his favorite. You may squirm hearing the words as they are sung so earnestly by the superficial characters they play. Even though they may make you feel uncomfortable, you will laugh. We did. The filmmakers have succeeded.
Taccone explains what they’ve done is simply take what The Lonely Island is good at. They take big fake, slick pop sounding comedy music and make it even more ridiculous and outrageous. A bigger, crazier version of what they’ve done in the past. It’s all fictional characters, but it’s also based very much on the real dynamic of The Lonely Island characters themselves.
Similarities to Bieber abound. Conner4Real played by Andy Samburg, has a turtle instead of a monkey. There’s also a reference to the Anne Frank house that plays off Bieber’s wildly inappropriate statement about hoping she would have been a “Belieber” if here today, that created controversy. The trailer showing Conner playing drums as an infant is exactly like a scene in Justin's movie. They both have tattoos, Usher is promoting them and the slogan on this movie is never stop never stopping, which is too like Bieber's “Never say never.”
They even poke fun at Apatow and the characters in some of his previous movies and he was fine at being the brunt of the jokes. You’ll get it. It’s no holes barred seeing their over the top version of TMZ shows exposing the superficiality of that kind of reporting. It works.
Is this worth your bucks? This movie sets the standard for contemporary parody. Even if you’ve never heard of Justin Bieber or watched an episode of the self serving “reporting” on TMZ you’ll still find lots to laugh at. If you stop and think about it, the outrageous parody and comedy in this piece isn’t far from what’s really floating in the shallow end of the Show Biz Pool every day.