‘Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping’
Director: Akiva Schaffer
Stars: Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone
3 (out of 5) Globes
Can you really savage the music industry when its biggest stars are in your movie? Can you even satirize something that’s already ceaselessly ridiculous? Does it really matter if the results are funny anyway? The answers are: no, no and well, you know, not really. At its best “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” is a whirligig fever dream reflection of our current pop culture landscape — not just its epic silliness but its speed and density. Jokes fire at the pace of a Vine video. Watching it is like the most busy and fruitful social media time-kill imaginable, where you hungrily imbibe plenty of shiny distractions, untold gif-level yuks and a think piece-y realization or five. You might even leave thinking you got something deeper than you did.
Still, funny’s funny, and even “Popstar”’s softest blows still hit. Its semi-hero is Connor Friel, aka Connor4real, a white boy rapper who ditched his beloved boy band, the Style Boyz, to skyrocket as a solo god — while his former partners and lifelong friends (fellow Lonely Islanders Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schafer, also the film’s co-creators) floundered. Bouncing with a stupid grin and oblivious confidence through a bubble swollen by fame and yes men, Connor announces a surprise release a week before it’s dropped. Early on he performs a song about how humble he is in front of the words “HUMBLE” writ large and gaudy.
Ain’t that so Bieber? In fact, isn’t Bieber far, far more absurd? Truth, as the saying goes, is stranger than fiction, but with “Popstar” it’s powerfully true. Little of what it conjures up can touch reality, not when icons like Biebs and Kanye tweet and unleash insanities no writer could dream up, much less when they’re asking all their famous industry friends (Mariah, Usher, Snoop, Ringo) to swing by for a winking cameo. At its worst, “Popstar” is akin to parodies of Trump: funny, yeah, but you can never trump the real deal.