Monday, January 28, 2013

Review: Here Comes the Boom

ZookeeperThe DilemmaGrown UpsPaul Blart: Mall CopI Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry – when you look at this lineup of movies, you realize (if you haven’t already) that there is absolutely no reason to ever believe that a Kevin James’ movie is going to be good.  Even blind faith has its limits.  Still, I really wanted to like Here Comes the Boom.  The trailers made me laugh; the premise teased a feel good ending; and the movie featured Salma Hayek.  I thought to myself, “what’s not to like about that?”  And then I watched the movie.

The plot of the film follows Scott Voss (James), a lazy schoolteacher, who springs to action when budget cuts threaten the job of beloved music teacher Marty Streb (Henry Winkler).  Inspired by Streb’s dedication to his students and by the prodding of Salma Hayek’s Bella Flores, Voss looks to save the day by raising $50K.  A series of events lead him to low level MMA fighting and hilarity ensues. 

To really wrap your head around this movie, you have to look at it as a mix between Mr. Holland’s OpusWarrior, and Zookeeper.  Really.  And if you happened to like all three of those movies, then this just might be the movie you’ve been waiting for. Most everyone in the film is affable and good-natured and the story has just enough corny sentimentality to keep you marginally invested in the plot, but where the film ultimately fails is in the comedy department.  You know going into this film that you’re going to get Woody Allen’s wit, Spielberg’s pacing, or J.J. Abrams’ lens flare, but what you do expect is a couple of sight gags that will leave you rolling on the ground.  Unfortunately, those are in short supply.

Henry Winkler more or less embodies what works best in this movie.  He brings a delicate touch to the role of the role of the beloved music teacher.  His performance not only infuses sentimentality into the proceedings but also provides the set up for some nice comedic moments.  Salma Hayek is highly competent in regards to providing some onscreen sass and poking fun at James’ protagonist.  It’s not one of her best performance, but her presence onscreen always feels like a welcome addition to the proceedings. 

Kevin James on the other hand is fairly unremarkable.  He delivers a more understated performance than what we have grown accustomed to.  So rather than a flamboyant crash and burn as he is wont to do, in Here Comes the Boom he comes off as mundane and banal.  Are there occasional flashes of comedy?  Yes, but those moments are muted and few and far between.  And that’s a fatal flaw for a movie such as this one.

As for the rest of the cast, their work is mostly hit or miss.  Bas Rutten and Charice come off as very green; comedic veterans Greg Germann and Joe Rogan are not given much screen time to work with; and Gary Valentine seems content to ride the coattails of his celebrity friends.  None of this comes as a surprise as the film is helmed by Frank Coraci, a director with a long history of delivering sub par directorial efforts. 

At the end of the day, it is not the worst movie Kevin James has ever done – far from it, but it is unremarkable in almost every way.  I tend to believe that as long as a movie has one redeeming quality, then it may be worth a look.  Here Comes the Boom unfortunately is mediocre across the board and because of this I am hard pressed to recommend it.  This movie screams TBS two years down the road on a night where all other shows are airing reruns and nothing else is happening in the world.  Under any under circumstances, watching this movie would have to be deemed a mistake.

Standout Performance: Henry Winkler.  He may not be the Fonz anymore, but Winkler still has a clever comedic sense.


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