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article imageReview: ‘Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping’ is going diamond for comedy Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jun 3, 2016 in Entertainment
‘Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping’ is a hilarious send-up of the music industry and its brightest stars, many of whom also appear in the film.
It takes a distinct level of comedic competence to create an effective mockumentary. Many popular TV shows have dedicated an episode to the craft, while certain feature-length films made their mark by doing it right. The subjects must be captivating, which generally means over-the-top but still engaging; you want to entertain audiences, not annoy them. There needs to be a lot of other personalities that can provide interviews; getting real-life public figures who are willing to contribute to the illusion is even better. On that note, the narrative should be grounded in some identifiable version of reality; audiences ought to believe these characters could exist, even though they shouldn’t for the sake of humanity. The creators of Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping have a clear understanding of the formula and execute it to a tee.
“Conner4Real” (Andy Samberg) got his start in the Style Boyz with his best friends, Owen Bouchard (Jorma Taccone) and Lawrence Dunn (Akiva Schaffer). The no. 1 single “Donkey Roll” made them household names and gave Conner the opportunity to break free and launch a solo career. As a result Lawrence separated from the group entirely and became a farmer, while Owen melted into the background of Conner’s stage décor. The film documents the release of Conner’s latest solo album, for which he wrote the 17 tracks himself and put out with the assistance of 100 producers. His lack of lyrical talent and a series of other unrelated incidents negatively affect sales and put Conner in a slump. His manager, Harry (Tim Meadows), does what he can from pairing him with an up-and-coming act (Chris Redd) to flat-out lying to him, but the only solution to Conner’s problems is facing and embracing his past.
Based on the already popular Saturday Night Live “Digital Shorts” featuring music by The Lonely Island, this film hit the ground running with an audience already interested in what 90 minutes with the outrageous singing group would offer. Fortunately they won’t be disappointed. The first 15 minutes of the film is packed with so much laughter, viewers shouldn’t be surprised to find tears in their eyes. This goes on a little longer before adopting a more sustainable ebb and flow of narrative development and comedy. The movie contains a mixture of interviews, music videos, concert footage and fly-on-the-wall-type recordings. However the number of cameras required to capture the various angles in a given scene often crosses the line between a typical documentary and fabrication.
A scene from  Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
A scene from 'Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping'
Universal Pictures
With the help of a lot of celebrities, this movie uses the absurdity of the music business, and the entertainment industry in general, to its total advantage. From panning DJs who just plug in an iPod to making the distinction between the face and the lyrics to all the partner swapping that occurs to the fleeting admiration to the petty betrayals and grudges to the nonsensical spending and theatrics, this movie leaves no stone unturned. There are far too many cameos to list, but there are undoubtedly some memorable ones. Nas claims “Karate Guy” changed his life. Mariah Carey testifies that “I’m So Humble” really spoke to her. Pink and Adam Levine both perform with Conner, which undeniably gets weird for both stars. Martin Sheen, a.k.a. “The West Wing guy,” throws a punch. And Will Arnett lords over a TMZ-like crew in one of the most frighteningly accurate sketches in the film. So many icons of the industry describe how they were personally affected by the Style Boyz and Conner4Real, it adds a whole other level of humour and authenticity to the picture.
The most important aspect of the soundtrack is the ridiculous lyrics. Repeating “not gay” in a song about equal rights, advocating for the legalization of crack, referencing the death of Osama Bin Laden in a love song and comparing the Mona Lisa to the Garbage Pail Kids are just some of the ludicrous lines to anticipate. But no matter what they’re saying, every actor is completely convincing in the roles they’ve nurtured for more than a decade. In addition to writing, directing and starring in the movie, the trio also recruited some top notch comedy talent to fill other significant parts, such as Meadows, Imogen Poots, Maya Rudolph, Sarah Silverman, Justin Timberlake and producer Judd Apatow.
This “stupid” comedy is also a stroke of genius and a lot of audiences will probably be surprised by how enjoyable it proves to be. If you love the idea of joining the ranks of Conner’s 30+ personal employees and being a member of the Conntourage, you can be assigned a random job via the movie’s official website. And to extend the mockumentary’s realism, fans should follow @Conner4Real where he’s posted additional music videos, contemplates taking a tiger to the film’s premiere and shares his most asinine thoughts about life.
Directors: Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone
Starring: Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer
More about Popstar Never Stop Never Stopping, Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, Akiva Schaffer, The Lonely Island
 
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