Review: Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

Score: C-

Director: Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone

Cast: Andy Samberg, Imogen Poots, Sarah Silverman, Joan Cusack

Running Time: 86 Minutes

Rated: R

“When you have a catchphrase the world is catched…by your phrase.”

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, the latest from The Lonely Island trio, is an in-your-face send-up of modern pop and music documentaries, explicitly in the vein of Justin Bieber’s 2011 flop Never Say Never.   A heavy dose of fandom went into the making of this film, and the dedication does not go without notice.  But the intense focus quickly progresses into an obstacle, forcing the film through a series of rough patches that result from the group simply trying too hard to do too much.

The film centers around Conner4Real, Samberg’s pop sensation who, like every character of a well-crafted mockumentary, is painfully unaware of his surroundings.  He’s merely weeks away from dropping Conquest, his sophomore effort, and to ensure its success he has tabbed over 100 producers for the seventeen tracks.  And in honor of U2’s Songs of Innocence privacy-diminishing PR catastrophe, Connor’s upped the anti, arranging for his music to be plugged into every home appliance in America.  Combat that with a lead single entitled “Equal Rights,” an anthem that overwhelmingly supports gay marriage while also being unequivocally homophobic and Conner appears ready for a gruesome fall.  (Not to worry, Conner will ensure you…The Onion wrote a glorifying review of of both the single and album.)

Boasting an unprecedented number of cameos, including the likes of Usher, Carrie Underwood, Pink and Adam Levine, Popstar appears to have the full support of the industry, who long ago traded in artistry for record sales.  But, in much the same spirit as the rest of the film, what starts off as a funny addition turns into a painful gimmick as the appearances flood the storyline, transforming a fun “MTV: Behind the Music” play into an overbearing who’s who in music roll call.

What starts out as a strong opening act quickly fads as the headliner takes the stage.  Conner proves to be a rather shallow character, both in terms of personality and development.  And while Samberg had a lot to say about him, he (along with directors Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone) wasted it all within the first thirty minutes.  As a result, audiences are left scratching their head for the last hour as the trio coasts to the finish line on folly, never caring that the gags are becoming more and more ridiculous without having any real motive behind such actions.  And to think that most of those quips didn’t offer up a payoff.

Regardless Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping had the potential (and the creative minds) to be brilliant.  But the end result comes off like an overstretched hour long comedy special that would have probably played better as a season long recurring SNL segment.


About Stephen Davis

Stephen Davis
I owe this hobby/career to the one and only Stephanie Peterman who, while interning at Fox, told me that I had too many opinions and irrelevant information to keep it all bottled up inside. I survived my first rated R film, Alive, at the ripe age of 8, it took me months to grasp the fact that Julia Roberts actually died at the end of Steel Magnolias, and I might be the only person alive who actually enjoyed Sorority Row…for its comedic value of course. While my friends can drink you under the table, I can outwatch you when it comes iconic, yet horrid 80s films like Adventures in Babysitting and Troop Beverly Hills. I have no shame when it comes to what I like, and if you have a problem with that, then we’ll settle it on the racquetball court. I see too many movies to actually win any film trivia contest, so don’t waste your first pick on me. My friends rent movies from my bookcase shelves, and one day I do plan to start charging. I long to live in LA, where my movie obsession will actually help me fit in, but for now I am content with my home in Austin. I prefer indies to blockbusters, Longhorns to Sooners and Halloween to Friday the 13th. I miss the classics, as well as John Ritter, and I hope to one day sit down and interview the amazing Kate Winslet.

Leave a Reply