Hit and miss "Pop Star" can't sustain success

"Pop Star" follows Connor4Real (Samberg) a former member of a boy band/rap trio known as the Style Boyz who is now enjoying a successful career on his own after the release of his first solo record.

One of the highlights in recent years of "Saturday Night Live" has been the emergence of digital shorts, which really took off thanks to a series of absurd music videos from the trio of Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, and Akiva Schaffer - collectively known as the Lonely Island.

Now the Lonely Island takes a crack at the big screen in the mockumentary "Pop Star: Never Stop Never Stopping," which follows in the same vein as previous SNL alums projects such as "This is Spinal Tap" and "CB4."

While "Pop Star" does have moments of inspired genius, it struggles to maintain any consistent momentum putting it clearly behind the other two films.

"Pop Star" follows Connor4Real (Samberg) a former member of a boy band/rap trio known as the Style Boyz who is now enjoying a successful career on his own after the release of his first solo record.

But with the follow-up record comes massive expectations with Connor struggling to come to terms with his fame, all the while shunning his former bandmates (Taccone, Schaffer) who helped him get where he is today.

If you are a fan of the Lonely Island digital shorts then there is plenty to like in "Pop Star."

The music and lyrics of the songs are funny and smart (and unprintable for this publication) and provide the film with many of its biggest laughs. There are also some really good cameos with a lot of inside jokes at the expense of the music industry. (Mariah Carey's response to a song about being humble, that is anything but, is a joy to watch).

There are some other clever running jokes, my favorite involving Tim Meadows as Connor's manager still bitter that he was kicked out of Tony Toni Tone. 

As long as "Pop Star" focuses on the music or satirizes the industry, the film works. The problem is when it strays away with a cookie cutter "Behind the Music"-like story arc that is never as clever as the rest of the film. Even at 85 minutes, this feels to be heavily padded - kind of like an SNL sketch that overstays its welcome.

Those stretches keep "Pop Star" from being truly memorable and falling well short of the gold standard that "Spinal Tap" has become.

Also in theaters

This week's biggest release is yet another venture into the comic book world, "X-Men: Apocalypse" (C) - the latest in the Marvel franchise that is overstuffed and a bit of a mess, taking the franchise a step or two back from previous entries.

This installment mainly takes place in the 1980's with Professor Charles Xavier's ever evolving academy for mutants facing one of its greatest threats known as Apocalypse (Oscar Issac) - one of the first mutants who is awaken after thousand of years intent on destroying the earth.

Apocalypse rounds up four others to help with his destruction - including Magneto (Michael Fassbender) - with Charles (James McAvoy) and his team (including Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique) determined to stop them.

"Apocalypse" is the third in the prequel era of the X-Men franchise, following up two of the series best films "Days of Future Past" and "First Class" and brings back director Bryan Singer for a fourth time.

But even someone as skilled as Singer can't hold all this together, with multiple subplots and so many characters that you practically need a road map to keep up with all the proceedings.

There is a lot of character development to digest here, almost too much, with the action sequences not providing the proper balance. The film is also void of humor save for a few moments (including a rescue scene involving Quicksilver set to the Eurythmics song "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" that is the highlight of the film). 

The main villain isn't interesting either, making the whole thing rather boring.

Even the cast seems disinterested, especially Lawrence and Fassbender.

For all the people who were underwhelmed by "Batman vs. Superman," this is far worse. A film that lacks focus or purpose with some really jarringly violent moments that stretch the boundaries of its PG-13 rating.

Perhaps it is time to scale back the "X-Men" franchise a bit, or at least let Deadpool cross over and give the film a bit of humor.

"X-Men Apocalypse" is rated PG-13 for PG-13 for sequences of violence, action and destruction, brief strong language and some suggestive images and is now playing at the Regal Bowling Green Stadium 12, Regal Greenwood Mall Stadium 10, Franklin Drive-In, and Highland Cinemas in Glasgow.

— To read Micheal Compton’s thoughts on all movies, visit his blog at bgdailynews.com/blogs/reel_to_reel or on Twitter @mcompton428. Email him at mcompton@bgdailynews.com.


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