Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
Despite the efforts of its talented writing team, this airy spoof set in the the world of pop falls disappointingly flat
Saturday Night Live star Andy Samberg's Lonely Island comedy trio (Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone) has produced many brilliant parodies of popular music, but sustaining a full-length feature proves too much for Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, which relies far too heavily on celebrity cameos instead of incisive bite.
Samberg plays Connor, who has left behind boy-band members The Style Boyz to achieve worldwide fame as a solo artist. Launching his second album under the name Conner4Real, Conner unwisely allows his new release to be automatically downloaded and played by all household appliances, a neat joke at the expense of Apple's release of U2's recent album. The resultant public backlash is only the beginning of Connor's decline as he's quickly eclipsed by his support act Hunter the Hungry; his future depends on winning back the support of his unwilling Style Boyz homies.
Comic Svengali Judd Apatow is amongst the executive producers here, raising hopes that Popstar might hit the high notes of Apatow's Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. The songs are certainly good enough, with Samberg cleverly evoking the heartfelt banality of Justin Bieber's work, but too many of the jokes fall flat. The best running gag is about Conner's DJ Owen (Jorma Taccone, who co-directed with Akiva Schaffer) being forced to wear a massive helmet in a parody of Deadmau5, a unwieldy leaden bucket which fires a beam of light into the skies as he eventually tumbles awkwardly off the stage.
There's blink-and-you-miss them cameos from SNL cast members Bill Hader and Maya Rudolph, plus phoned-in input from several generations of prestigious in-on-the-joke artists from Ringo Starr to Mariah Carey, but Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping fails to generate any genuine laughs.
General release from Fri 28 Aug.