NEW YORK – The subtitle of the mock documentary “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” (Universal) hints at the banality of certain segments of the pop music world while providing a glimmer of hope that what’s to come will be genuinely witty and fun.
Instead, this lame spoof undercuts itself by making the vanity of music superstars seem too absurd to bother parodying. It’s also vulgar in the extreme.
Andy Samberg stars as inept rap musician Conner4Real, who starts out in the industry as one-third of a hip-hop boy band called Style Boyz. After unceremoniously breaking up the group and launching a solo career, Conner4Real finds he’s not equipped to handle success, or failure, on his own.
Dotted with cameos by a host of musicians including Ringo Starr, Usher, Justin Timberlake, Seal, Mariah Carey, 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg and Michael Bolton, the movie is more asinine than offensive, which is quite a claim given how much inappropriate material is packed into 86 minutes.
Directors Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone wrote the screenplay with Samberg and also co-star as Lawrence and Owen, Conner4Real’s childhood friends and bandmates. In actuality, Samberg, Schaffer and Taccone grew up together in Northern California and made their mark collaborating on a series of popular digital shorts for “Saturday Night Live” when Samberg was a cast member.
One has to conclude the abbreviated format is a better fit since the trio is unable to find enough material worthy of a feature-length satire. Virtually indistinguishable from its targets, “Popstar” raises the question whether it’s possible for a parody to be too accurate. In any case, audience members will pay a high price for watching this sophomoric loop of comedic cannibalism.
At one point, Conner4Real defensively asserts, “There’s no such thing as selling out any more.” Sadly, he may be right.
The film contains pervasive rough and crude language, full frontal male nudity, upper and rear female nudity, frequent drug use, some nongraphic violence involving canines, frequent toilet humor and explicit banter including degrading song lyrics. The Catholic News Service classification is O – morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R‚ restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
John P. McCarthy is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.