Full disclosure, I thought this was a little more "Under the Radar" than it actually is. I suppose perspective is everything. Nevertheless, despite how much I love The Lonely Island's farcical music, for some reason, I never sat down to check out 'Popstar' in its more than five years of existence. I suppose my familiarity era for Lonely Island material is more the stuff that took place ten-plus years ago.
Just taking a slight aside here, let's talk about further, more "hidden" Lonely Island success. They may be mostly known for their SNL/viral music videos, but the trio of Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer have had their hands in a bunch of popular stuff, including writing and performing "Everything is Awesome" and 'The LEGO Movie', a Netflix Original called 'Michael Bolton's Big, Sexy Valentine's Day Special', the upcoming 'Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers' and more. So they may be a little more "behind the scenes" now, but I'd almost consider them to be the modern-day, edgier "Weird Al" (not to take anything away from Al, I still love the guy!)
The film is shot mostly mockumentary-style, as it covers the success of Conner Friel (Samberg); a musician who went solo after his work with the fictional "Style Boyz" fell apart with a break-up. The Style Boyz further consisted of Conner's childhood friends, Lawrence Dunn (Schaffer), who has since become a farmer after failing his own solo career and Owen Bouchard (Taccone), who becomes Conner's nearly pointless DJ (as all he does is hit "play" on an iPod). Conner has since adopted the solo name "Conner4Real", and his debut album "Thriller, Also" is ultimately a success. However, his second album, "Connquest", tanks, putting Conner in a bit of a desperate situation.
Harry (Tim Meadows), Conner's manager, tries a few different things to attempt to get Conner back on top. These include things like trying a sponsorship with Aquaspin home appliances and hiring a rapper named Hunter the Hungry (Chris Redd). Meanwhile, Conner tries his own strategies with on-stage gimmicks that keep going wrong and going public with his proposal to actress Ashley Wednesday (Imogen Poots), on the advice of his publicist, Paula Klein (Sarah Silverman). Soon enough, however, it becomes a question of what part of this job is more important - the money, fame and success, or doing right by his fans and old friends.
I can't believe that this one almost went over my head. The way it plays with the ego of this "superstar" gone awry gets pretty hilarious, but what really makes the movie is ALL of the names attached to the cast. Shot mockumentary style, we get names like Seal, Michael Bolton, Nas, 50 Cent, Usher, Akon, Mariah Carrey, DJ Khaled, ASAP Rocky, Mario Lopez, and even the one and only Ringo Starr all playing themselves in various interviews. And that's not even everyone! To see how serious they are in some of these ridiculous interviews about Conner4Real can get pretty hilarious.
All in all, this ended up being a box office failure. But I think one must take into account other titles released around it contributing to its box office floppiness as well. It was released alongside 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows', and had 'X-Men: Apocalypse' and 'Alice Through the Looking Glass' released before it, while audiences were awaiting the following week's releases of 'The Conjuring 2', 'Now You See Me 2' and 'Warcraft'. Even 'Finding Dory' was released the week after that. In other words, it almost didn't stand a chance when your average fan is flocking to familiarity.
With that said, however, I can't push this as a comedy enough. This is, without a doubt, one of the funniest comedies I've seen in quite a while, and it's something I plan on re-watching time and time again. It's going to be one of those titles for yours truly. Just as far as taste goes, I might classify it as something of a present-day but edgier 'This is Spinal Tap'. It's absolutely worth checking out if you are or ever have been a fan of Lonely Island, as well. Despite the fact that it didn't do so hot at the Box Office, it has earned a bit of a cult following, and I'm pretty happy to join that particular cult. A few minor things hold it back, but this is almost a 5.
I decided to start this 'Under the Radar' thing with a film I wanted to discuss last Halloween on my previous site. Thing was, I bit off more than I could chew with a big horror special, and in the end, just wanted to get away from Halloween movies for a while.
Here we have a fun, sorta kinda hidden gem from 2006 that was essentially made special for 80's slasher fans like myself. For the most part, it's a mockumentary black comedy, but it slowly becomes it's own horror movie as the film goes on.
This is one of those examples of a film with truly odd but original content that I tend to flock toward as my all-time favorites. The film is mostly shot as a found-footage documentary, where filmmaker Taylor Gentry (Angela Goethals) interviews a man named Leslie Vernon (Nathan Baesel). The catch? Vernon is aiming to be the next big slasher icon, following in the footsteps of horror titans like Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers. By the way, he's not auditioning for a special role in film or anything, the story takes place within the basic horror universe.
What we get as a product is a rather funny take on the whole thing. Leslie tells us, the audience, about stuff like how much cardio he has to do, or training exercises involving seeing how long you can stay buried in a deprivation chamber. The whole thing is meant to show us a bunch of secrets that these killers use in order to get their victims.
Adding to how fun and, frankly, interesting the whole thing is, there's a really cool sort of twist in the end. I'll say right now, it IS a bit predictable if you're following close enough. But the way it's executed is what impresses me.
As if you didn't need more reason to just have fun with this title, it also holds a few celebrity cameos that almost make it look like a sort of Horror-Con gathering. Added to the cast, even if for a short time, are Robert Englund (who played Freddy), Kane Hodder (who played Jason) and Scott Wilson (who played Hershel in 'The Walking Dead')
This title is usually one that horror fans have heard of, but it's surprising just how many haven't actually seen it. It's a neat, original idea, and get's just about as scary as it does funny. It's a bit of horror comedy at it's best. It's not 'Tucker & Dale vs Evil', but it's still pretty damn solid.