Directed by: Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone – Starring: Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, Akiva Schaffer, Sarah Silverman, Tim Meadows
You wait ages for a music mockumetary, and two come along at once.
Hot on the heels of David Brent: Life on the Road comes this offering. I say hot on the heels, but this was actually released in the States way back in May, but is only hitting our shores now.
Unusually, the films co-directors also star in this, as the former bandmates of Conner4Real (Samberg). Theirs is a story we’ve seen a thousand times, where a boy-band – The Style Boyz –become superstars, before one member jumps ship for a solo career. The mockumentary follows Conner as he attempts to be a star in his own right, making his difficult second album, while his bandmates disappear from the public eye.
A parody of such ‘real life’ documentaries as Justin Bieber’s Never Say Never, this is completely irreverent when it comes to its subject matter. No boy-band cliché or scenario is too OTT. Conner has a huge entourage, and suitably obsessive fan-base, as well as the cheesy music tie-ins.
At one point Conner4Real does a deal to have his music play when people open their fridge doors! Samberg co-wrote this, and clearly has a passion for the project and he really does seem to revel in the role, but it is a completely cliché-driven part, with nothing new to offer to the mix. There are a dazzling array of cameos and a wonderful supporting cast, but so much time is spent focusing on Conner (which is appropriate to the subject matter) that they don’t always get a chance to shine.
Some of the songs are ridiculously infectious and catchy, but also deeply offensive at times. I doubt any of them could be a full-blown hit, but there are a definitely couple of novelty records in there.
I am probably somewhat jaded after years of writing showbiz and entertainment copy, but I did find myself wondering “is it over yet?” This wasn’t bad – it’s heart is totally in the right place. It has some funny moments and isn’t a total disaster. But Samberg isn’t ‘hot’ enough to pull off this kind of character, and overall, it is just a rehash of other people’s ideas. Indeed, it borrows heavily from the likes of This is Spinal Tap.
Entertaining in a ‘don’t expect too much’ kind of way, this does have laughs, but some of it is a bit to parochial to strike a chord with audiences outside of the US . Also, there was no need for Samberg to be so OTT. These types of character are enormous personalities, and they don’t require any exaggeration!
There are moments of brilliance, where he perfectly captures the self-doubt felt by someone who has scaled dizzying heights, and who lets their ego get the run of themselves.
And at over 90 minutes, it is short and sweet, so if you are looking for some cheesy fun, this is the movie for you. It veers between tedious and terrific, but will entertain and leave earworms stuck in your head.
Limited cinema release from August 26th!