Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (Blu-ray)

September 12, 2016 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

I’ve long been a fan of Andy Samberg and am probably one of the few that finds one of his earlier movies, Hot Rod, one of the most entertaining films I’ve ever seen. Then again I like to laugh and I really have no control over what I laugh at. But, again, for some reason this guy just clicks with me. He’s a self-confessed worshiper of Adam Sandler, but let’s hope that Samberg’s career doesn’t fall into the trap that Sandler’s did.  Back to Samberg. I don’t watch a lot of television, but I have to admit that his Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a weekly highlight for me. Granted, he’s got an ensemble cast who are nearly as funny (or depending on your point of view, funnier) as he is but like some of his movies – the show just works. Samberg returned to the screen for his first starring role since 2011’s That’s My Boy (with idol Adam Sandler) with Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. A rockumentary? Hey, they’ve worked in the past and anyone who’s seen Best in Show or This is Spinal Tap will tell that, when done right, they really work. That’s the question here – did it work?

Samberg plays Connor4Real, the former frontman for the rap group StyleBoyz, an N*Sync/Backstreet Boys type of band mixed in with a little of The Beastie Boys. Connor (we’ll call him that from this point forward) becomes the breakout star of the group and decides to pursue a solo career. We follow the highs and lows of his life, with interviews from his entourage who constantly seem to praise him. Connor is grounded, though, his best friend is a turtle and he’s even got a member of his staff whose only job is to punch him in the groin to “keep it real.” Amen. Connor’s new album is about to hit and there’s a lot riding on it, they procure a corporate sponsor that plays his music whenever a refrigerator or microwave is turned on, much to the chagrin of, well, everyone. With his critical praise waining, is this the end for Connor and what of his former band mates: Owen (Jorma Taccone) and Lawrence (Akiva Schaffer)?

As I mentioned earlier, when done right a mockumentary can be extremely entertaining. Those who have seen 1984’s This is Spinal Tap will certainly attest. There are no shortage of pop culture references and the list of musicians and celebrates that grace this film has to be in the high double digits. Longtime SNL cast member Tim Meadows plays Connor’s manager as well as Sarah Silverman, his agent. There’s probably one of the most entertaining sequences in which TMZ is parodied and look for a cameo by Justin Timberlake as Connor’s personal carrot chef.  While the movie didn’t do the business it was expected at the box office, I’m willing to be that it’ll find its audience on Blu-ray. For me, this is one that I’ll probably watch at least once a year…right after Hot Rod.

Video: How’s it look?

The 2.40:1 AVC HD image looks pretty darn good as is the case with most every new to Blu-ray film. The style of the film is documentary (obviously) but there’s really no ‘archival footage’ other than what’s manufactured for the film. Translation: it still looks good. This is a colorful and glitzy movie in every sense of the word. Reading the monitors in the background offers up just as much clarity as we can see in the shaved “vents” in Samberg’s hair. Contrast is bold and strong and I really noticed no errors in any way, shape or form.

Audio: How’s it sound?

While the central theme is music, there isn’t a whole lot in there in terms of actual songs. Yes the “F$&K Bin Laden” number is memorable (for many reasons) but by and large it’s a lot of talking. And that’s ok. The included DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack delivers the goods when and where it can, lighting up the front and rear channels. It’s an active and dynamic mix that’s sure to please the viewer. But a concert film it’s surely not.

Supplements: What are the extras?

  • Audio Commentary – Directors/Co-Writers Akiva Schaffer & Jorma Taccone And Co-Writer Andy Samberg combine for a commentary that’s nearly as entertaining as the film itself. They seem to get a lot of joy out of watching themselves look like fools and that’s part of the genius of the movie. A must listen for fans.
  • Deleted Scenes – The movie’s short running time probably left a lot of these on the cutting room floor, but it’s nice to have these as part of the Blu-ray.
  • Music Videos – Half dozen are included, each might be funnier than the next.
  • Gag Reel – Shenanigans on the set.
  • Interview Outtakes – Essentially more deleted scenes only with the interviews.
  • Bonus Footage – I’ll let the individual vignettes speak for themselves. What could I say about “Frog Jizz” that they can’t? Exactly.
    • How to Donkey Roll
    • Big Boy Freestyle
    • Frog Jizz
    • Shooting Hoops
    • “Turn Up The Beef” Backstory
    • Sex Tape
    • Fun at CMZ

The Bottom Line

Movies that lampoon an industry (in this case, the music industry) are often well-thought out and incisive. That’s the case here. Not only is the movie funny, but I’m willing to bet that it’s a lot more accurate than most of us know. The film’s tone and raunchiness are sure to offend the masses, but fans of Samberg are bound to be entertained for 90 minutes. And that’s the point.

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