Cult classics are movies that have poor box office receipts but become beloved by audiences when they are released on home entertainment platforms. There is always at least one per decade. The 70s had “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” the 80s had “Clue” and “Heathers,” (among many others). The 90s had “Office Space,” and the 2000s had “Wet Hot American Summer.”
This summer’s “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” made less than half of its 20 million dollar budget during its initial June release, but the movie’s hysterical humor and overall fun tone make it seem like it is destined for cult classic status.
“Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” is a musical mockumentary (fake documentary) about the release of pop star Conner4Real’s second album, “CONNquest,” a follow-up to his smash hit debut “Thriller, Also.”
Conner, played by Andy Samberg, used to be a member of a 90s boy band known as “Style Boyz,” alongside his best friend and now DJ, Owen, played by Jorma Taccone, and retired songwriter-turned-farmer, Lawrence, played by Akiva Schaffer.
Conner’s new album is critically panned, receiving ratings such as “-4/10” and “The Poop Emoji/5 Stars,” and the entire film is spent with Conner as he begins to fall from grace, and even scarier, into obscurity. Along his journey back to the top of the popularity pyramid, Conner has to go on tour, deal with obnoxious shock rapper Hunter the Hungry (played by relative newcomer Chris Redd) and try to get out of the shadow of the Style Boyz.
If the three main actors’ names sound familiar, it’s because Samberg, Taccone and Schaffer make up the comedy-rap group The Lonely Island. The group is responsible for such classic Saturday Night Live Digital Shorts as “I’m on a Boat,” “Jack Sparrow” and “We Like Sportz” along with many, many others.
Since this is a music mockumentary, there are plenty of hilariously stupid pop-rap numbers (the soundtrack has 28 tracks and all but two make an appearance in the movie somehow), mostly by Samberg himself.
The songs are incredibly varied in their topics, ranging from a tune, in which Conner brags about how humble he, is to a Linkin Park-guest starring “Things In My Jeep” (which is exactly what the title proclaims). There is even a Macklemore- style gay marriage anthem that, as Ringo Starr points out, is released after the legalization of same-sex marriage. Those songs, along with many others, had every member of the audience and myself were laughing so hard they almost cried and even evoked some cheers and applause at times.
The cast of “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” is absolutely stuffed with cameos from actors, musicians, producers and generally anyone you can think of. It features interviews with Simon Cowell, Usher, the aforementioned Ringo Starr, Questlove, Arcade Fire, DJ Khaled, the list goes on and on. Alongside the celebrities who play themselves, many of the actors play hilarious characters in their own right.
Tim Meadows is great as Harry the manager, Maya Rudolph as De-BOR-ah, Imogen Poots as Ashley Wednesday, Sarah Silverman as Conner’s publicist, Emma Stone (who pops up as a fellow musician and even gets a snippet of her own nonsensical song) and a great appearance from a certain collaborator who I won’t dare spoil, among others. Although there is an insane amount of celebrity cameos and guest appearances, make no mistake; this is Samberg, Taccone and Schaffer’s movie through and through.
The best part of the movie outside of the music is the humor. “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” is stuffed to the brim with hundreds of jokes of all different varieties. Whether it is wordplay, physical humor, immature body-related jokes or sight gags, there is a huge variety of gags happening at a rapid pace.
There is even one particular scene that Edgar Wright, the director of “Shaun of the Dead,” “Hot Fuzz” and “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” believes should receive a special Academy Award because of how funny and all-around bizarre it is.
While the humor is the best part of the film, the worst part is unfortunately the story. The entire 86-minute run time can be predicted from start to finish because it is a story that has been made a million times. However, the story isn’t the reason to see such a broad, goofy comedy such as this, so it’s not that much of a flaw.
“Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” is ultimately a cult classic in the making. The jokes are varied and hysterical, the music is catchy and side-splittingly funny, and the over-the-top performances are a lot of fun. While the story is very predictable, it is a short flick that doesn’t have you focus too much on the story.
Hardly anybody saw it during its initial release, but it is a movie that should be given a second chance. “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” is rated R for some graphic nudity, language throughout, sexual content and drug use, so viewer discretion is advised.