Here Comes the Boom Directed by: Frank Coraci Cast: Kevin James, Henry Winkler, Bas Rutten, Selma Hayek Running Time: 1 hr 45 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: October 12, 2012
PLOT: A lazy science teacher (James) decides he can earn money to save his school's music program by participating in Mixed Martial Arts fights.
WHO'S IT FOR? If you enjoyed spending ten dollars to see Kevin James ride a Segway, or run into a wall in the past, then here's an upgrade: in Here Comes the Boom, he gets punched in the face more than a couple times. Aside from that, this Adam Sandler-produced comedy is for those who want something to watch while they eat their popcorn.
EXPECTATIONS: There's always a chance for an underdog surprise, or a hint of emotion to be felt. What if this movie made me feel something? Wouldn't that be a nice surprise?
Kevin James as Scott Voss: His distinctive stomach size has certainly slimmed since Paul Blart: Mall Cop and Zookeeper. Still, the jokes about this average American man are with the same simple agenda, to have his brief macho projections turn to emasculation, and to show that he's a silly slob. The newest addition to James' type is a sense of slyness, which makes this lazy teacher sound much more like one of his students than an adult. James is unfunny in this character who constantly rings as dishonest intentions, especially within such a movie as Here Comes the Boom. Score: 3
Henry Winkler as Marty Streb: With echoes of his character in the Adam Sandler comedy The Waterboy, Winkler plays another dorky leader who becomes a goofy sidekick to the main character athlete, and is mostly used to be laughed at for his weirdness. At the same time, Here Comes the Boom has no problem embracing this character for his cliche heart ("You're mine," he says to James when talking about heroes) in moments where it needs to try to force the audience to feel something. Score: 3
Bas Rutten as Niko: Continuing his streak of appearing in Kevin James movies, Rutten has his biggest on-screen role yet (he previously voiced a wolf that urinated on James in Zookeeper). The real-life fighter is a big man who does goofy things, with a silly animated attitude. Though he is still funnier in the instructional videos than any of the Happy Madison movies he previously has been in, Rutten is the one positive thing to take from this movie, if not for his presence's purity. Like James, one can be sure that if Rutten keeps doing the same thing in following roles, his shtick will become much more tiresome than it is funny. Score: 6
Salma Hayek as Bella Flores: She is the love interest that keeps James at bay until he does something right to win her over (sorry, spoiler alert!). Hayek, with the same questionable presence as her involvement in Grown Ups, is just a prize within this story, and nothing else. Score: 3
TALKING: In a gross assumption that all viewers already understand the rules of UFC fighting, (or something that stands as another example of this movie's laziness), Here Comes the Boom hardly provides a solid explanation as to the rules of UFC. For the uninformed, the sport appears like pure rule-less chaos, with little strategy indicated except for a few confident statements uttered by characters. Missing an explanation to UFC is entirely an unnecessary omission - and can only be barely gotten away with when a hundred-year-old sport like baseball (Trouble with the Curve) is used. Score: 3
SIGHTS: In an attempt to add grit to the film's UFC sequences, the movie changes visual quality (or film stock, as the jargon goes) while using brief point-of-view shots to include the audience in the fighting. Immersion in these events is prevented by the glaring skepticism of James' phony involvement - the punches thrown his way simply don't look believable, and in a montage in which his character is apparently throwing a lot of punches, his face is conveniently hidden from the camera. Score: 4
SOUNDS: Though the story finds some Kumbaya importance in the power of music, the soundtrack could care less to support that sentimentality with enthusiasm. Instead, Here Come the Boom lazily garners its film title from the silly lyrics in the decade-old song "Boom" by forgotten band P.O.D., while Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down" is referenced again by teachers despite being used by a film literally named Won't Back Down last month. A funny admittance to the relation between the story's laziness and the film's creation can be heard with Winkler's student symphony, which is shown playing (at least twice) part of the movie's score. Score: 2
BEST SCENE: There was barely a moment in this movie that made me happy. I think one cell in my body might have giggled for one second when the dance hall lights turned on during Rutten's bike exercise class.
ENDING: It's a bad ending, but it's still not as bad as Won't Back Down. It is however a lazy add-on, a cheap shot to the heart by trying to round everything up as an expression of "Viva America!"
REWATCHABILITY: There is nothing in me that would make me want to see this again, except to view how impossibly bad it is.
For at least two movies, he tried. In Paul Blart: Mall Cop and Zookeeper, Kevin James played men dedicated to their jobs (that's all the good I can say about those movies, give me a break). But with Here Comes the Boom, in a meta-twist worthy of an adaptation in which Ben Affleck plays him, James admits that along with his slacker teacher character, he himself, as a storyteller, gives up.
Here Comes the Boom is a flatly dumb movie that might as well have been written by Kevin James' character. After all, both of them share the same mentality — they'd rather take the money given to them for simply showing up to a fight, while defending oneself with skill is an afterthought. So while unofficial Happy Madison movie Hotel Transylvania (in which Kevin James voiced a farting Frankenstein) only came out two weeks ago, Here Comes the Boom is best appreciated as shelf presence for Adam Sandler's posse — simply keeping the brand and its varying products out on the shelf even if the material is crap — and if people buy it, eh, that's their problem.
It's a challenge to discern a movie that's come out this year that is more thoroughly lazy than Here Comes the Boom, a spiritual element so prevalent in this story that the word must have been written in big bold letters over the screenwriters' desk when this thing was being slapped together. All of the movies' jokes fall down in thuds, with nothing to their humor but a character's over-the-top, cartoonish qualities (James, Winkler, Rutten). The emotional parts of this story are hammed up supplemental corniness, including a U.S citizenship subplot that ends the movie with the forced sentiment of "Viva America!" being said with an American flag presented Sam Raimi-style on screen. Even the title of the movie, indifferent in many senses but certainly a warning of what lies ahead, lazily borrows from the decade-old song that it is uselessly bringing back into pop culture consciousness.
Though Here Comes the Boom digs into America's bowl of underdog elements — teachers, the future of students, music programs, and immigration, you feel nothing from this movie — there may be no pain, and there's certainly no gain. There are no laughs, either.
FINAL SCORE: 3/10