Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
dir Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone
scr Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone
prd Judd Apatow, Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone, Rodney Rothman
with Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, Akiva Schaffer, Sarah Silverman, Tim Meadows, Maya Rudolph, Joan Cusack, Imogen Poots, Chris Redd, Justin Timberlake, Bill Hader, Emma Stone
release US 3.Jun.16, UK 26.Aug.16
16/US Universal 1h27
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
Style Boyz: Schaffer, Samberg and Taccone

silverman meadows rudolph
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Fast and densely packed with astute gags, this satirical mock-documentary mixes knowing humour with an engaging story that's funny and involving. There's also a constant parade of big-star cameos to keep the audience on its toes. And as it keeps us laughing, it has some important things to say about fame and show business.

Childhood buddies Connor, Owen and Lawrence (Samberg, Taccone and Schaffer) formed Style Boyz at age 10 and hit it big with their hit Karate Guy. Then Lawrence left to be a farmer, while Owen became the deejay for Connor's solo career. But sales of his new album are down, and with 32 people on his payroll he needs better promotional ideas than uploading his music to kitchen appliances. Next up is his Connquest world tour with unhinged support act Hunter (Redd). Meanwhile, Owen keeps trying to engineer a reunion with Lawrence.

Samberg is terrific as the confident, too-cute superstar whose bubble-like existence leaves him unable to make sense of the real world. The role is a terrific mix of earnest belief and hapless physicality, all of which Samberg dives into with gusto. Poots is particularly hilarious as Connor's very public girlfriend (his over-the-top wedding proposal is hysterical). Meadows adds a bit of industry savvy as Connor's on-off manager. And both Taccone and Schaffer offer some surprising emotional angles.

The film is punctuated with to-camera interviews with a wide range of musicians hilariously playing themselves with straight faces. And there are also a mind-boggling number of starry side roles, from Mariah Carey and Seal as themselves to funny characters for the likes of Silverman (as his dubious publicist), Rudolph (the kitchen appliance guru), Cusack (Connor's mother) and Timberlake (his singing chef). And the songs are just ridiculous. The high point is his marriage-equality single, complete with an anthemic chorus sung by Pink ("not gay!").

Actually, the songs propel the pastiche far over the edge, but they're so well-produced that they can't help but elicit laughter. Meanwhile, the script's jokes come fast and thick, with a combination of sharp observations, silly slapstick and fiendishly memorable gags. The goofy premise is sometimes stretched to the breaking point, but the constant barrage of wit hits riotous nerves on its way to a fabulous climax at the Pop Awards, a fabulous finale that wouldn't be complete without the likes of Usher and Michael Bolton.

cert 15 themes, language, nudity, drugs 21.Aug.16

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