"Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping" Review

Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone are known for their comedy sketches and parody videos as a part of The Lonely Island. They came to prominence with their Saturday Night Live digital short “Lazy Sunday”. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is simply them coming together and fleshing out a feature length version of one of their videos. It’s a rock mockumentary for the popular culture of the 21st century, that’s actually funny. 

Conner4real (Samberg) is a young singer/rapper at the top of his game. He started out in the hip hop group called The Style Boyz with his childhood friends, Owen (Taccone) and Lawrence (Schaffer). Stepping out from the group he catapulted himself to the top of the charts and hearts of his fans. After the huge success of his first album, we find Conner preparing for his latest, Connquest. To ensure the albums success, Conner wrote all of the songs and used 100 producers to create all of the beats. 

With songs like “Equal Rights”, about marriage equality but stitched together with homophobic lines, and “Finest Girl” which makes references to killing Osama Bin Laden, Connquest tanks. The rest of the film is about Conner realizing he has a bunch of “yes men” around him and getting back to his roots. 

While the set up is typical of a VH1 Behind the Music episode, that’s a part of what makes it wonderful. The film mocks pop culture, pop music, and hip hop in a way that’s right on the money by marrying the documentary style filmmaking with comedy. Popstar is written by Samberg, Schaffer, and Taccone and there is a palpable sense that they wanted to mock the culture while hitting dramatic beats and actually telling a story rather than stringing together numerous sketches.

As the film unfolds, numerous celebrity cameos of popular artists and comedians are woven into the film. Some are brief, and other’s continue to come back, but most of them add to the humor of the film because of the irony of making fun of the business they helped create or are still a part of. There are a few TMZ or CMZ as it’s called in the film, scenes that are hilarious! They nail Harvey Levin and crew’s office sessions. 

This film is a little funnier than the trailer, and I cracked up watching the trailer. So if you don’t find the trailer funny, than you probably won’t find the film funny either. But there’s no escaping the fact that this is clever satire that encapsulates this social media/reality TV/need to be liked generation in an affectionate, genuine, comedic film.

Rating: B

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Kevin Sampson

The fact that Kevin Sampson is not just a film critic, but a writer, producer, and director as well makes his understanding of cinema even better. Coming from a theoretical and hands on approach, he understands both sides of the struggle of viewing and creating great works. After receiving an MFA in Film & Electronic Media from American University in Washington, D.C in 2011, Kevin took his love for film to the next level by creating and producing Picture Lock, an entertainment website, podcast, and hour long film review TV show that runs on Arlington Independent Media’s public access station in Arlington, VA. The show covers new releases, classic films, and interviews with local filmmakers in the DMV area. He is also a member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association and African American Film Critics Association. He is currently looking forward to filming his first feature film in the near future. He believes that film is one of the most powerful art forms in the world, and he hopes that he can use the craft to inspire others and make a difference in it.