Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is Genius Satire

"Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping" is headlined by musical digital-shorts superstars Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, collectively known as The Lonely Island. Courtesy of Universal Pictures.

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is a genius satire as the musical mockumentary genre gets an update for the 21st century.

When we first meet singer/rapper Conner4Real (Andy Samberg) in Popstar, the former Conner Friel on the verge of releasing his sophomore album, Connquest.  It’s been some time since his former band, The Style Boyz, broke up.  While he’s still working with Owen Bouchard (Jorma Taccone), former bandmate Lawrence Dunn (Akiva Schaffer) has been pushed aside.  Much of this dates back to ignoring his contribution to “Turn Up the Beef” during the Poppies some time prior.  During their heyday, they would inspire so many contemporary musicians.

Connquest doesn’t have the same success as his debut, Thriller.  Negative reviews come in the form of a -4 from Pitchfork and the shit emoji from Rolling Stone.  It’s pretty telling as to how bad your album is when you get a review rating in the form of an emoji.  In spite of these negative reviews, Conner4Real goes at it on tour.  Manager Harry (Tim Meadows) gets home appliance manufactrer Aquaspin to sponsor the tour but this quickly backfires.  Upon bringing Hunter the Hungry (Chris Redd) on as an opening act, ticket sales begin to increase.  His fame only continues to grow and branches off on his own.

The tour doesn’t go as Conner4Real would have hoped.  Girlfriend Ashley Wednesday (Imogen Poots) leaves him following a mishap that involves wolves.  Depression hits faster than a freight train so publicist Paula Klein (Sarah Silverman) gets him out of the house.  It’s only when Taylor Swift’s appearance during the Poppies gets canceled that the road is paved for The Style Boyz to reunite.  This results in an epic reunion that includes Michael Bolton and Tyrus Quash (Justin Timberlake) as Mr. Fish in “Incredible Thoughts.”

When they joined the cast and writing team, The Lonely Island injected a fresh bite into Saturday Night Live with their digital shorts.  It’s no surprise to see them transition their genius from the small screen to the big screen.  They do so with the help of a number of comedy friends.  To say that this film is filled with cameos from the comedy world would not be an understatement.  They appear left and right and the credits have you thinking about where some of those cameos are.  Yup.  Some of them are blink and you miss it.

It’s been a few years since I first watched the film but Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping deserved better upon its theatrical release.  I’m not going to say that the comedy went above people’s heads because this is very much a mainstream film.  So why is it that it flopped at the box office?  I don’t know.  I would go as far as to say that Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping rivals Rob Reiner’s classic This is Spinal Tap.

DIRECTORS:  Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone
SCREENWRITERS:  Andy Samberg & Akiva Schaffer & Jorma Taccone
CAST:  Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, Akiva Schaffer, Sarah Silverman, Tim Meadows

Universal Pictures opened Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping in theaters on June 3, 2016. The film is available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital. Grade: 5/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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