Review: HERE COMES THE BOOM Is Less Terrible Than You Thought

Eric D. Snider, Featured Critic

The thing about the boom is that it will come whether you're ready for it or not. The boom follows no schedule, obeys no law but the law of the boom. We would be prudent, therefore, to heed such warnings of imminent boom-coming as we are given, including the one contained in this new film, Seven Psychopaths. Er, no, Here Comes the Boom.

This is the one where Kevin James plays a schoolteacher who becomes a mixed martial arts fighter to raise money to save the music department, written by James and Allan Loeb (The Dilemma) and directed by frequent Adam Sandler collaborator Frank Coraci. What's surprising is that, despite this description, the movie is NOT a hellish ordeal filled with jokes about fat guys falling down and MMA fighters farting in each other's faces. It is instead a blandly agreeable feel-good trifle, more Mr. Holland's Opus than Paul Blart: Mall Cop, with a few laughs and a general sense of good-naturedness. It isn't worth seeking out, but it won't do you any harm if you happen to stumble across it.

James plays Scott Voss, a once-promising but now lazy biology teacher at an ordinary -- which is to say underfunded, understaffed -- public high school. But he's inspired by the music teacher, Marty Streb (good ol' Henry Winkler), who still has passion for his work, and who will be devastated both personally and professionally if budget cuts force the cancellation of the music program. Scott declares at a faculty meeting that he'll spearhead the effort to raise the necessary funds, partly because he's a good guy at heart and partly because he wants to stick it to The Man (who in this case is the school's officious principal, played by Greg Germann).

Naturally, the only way to come up with $48,000 between now and the end of the school year is to become an MMA fighter. This probably would have been your first thought, too. Scott was a champion wrestler in college, and still has a solid build 20 years later, so it isn't completely implausible. He doesn't even have to be very good: even the losers in MMA matches get paid. Encouraged by Marty and fellow teacher Bella Flores (Salma Hayek), Scott recruits an enthusiastic Dutch immigrant named Niko (real life MMA dude Bas Rutten) to train him.

From there, the plot proceeds as you'd expect it to, with training montages, comical mishaps at low-rent fights, opposition from crusty school administrators, seemingly devastating setbacks, and eventual (SPOILER) success. (I don't want to give anything away, but just FYI, the movie does not end with the music program being shut down.) Kevin James, who has always been likable even when starring in mediocre films, has turned a much-needed corner here: he's not playing "the fat guy" anymore. Here Comes the Boom doesn't have a single joke about his weight. That could be because he's not actually very fat -- but he wasn't very fat in Grown Ups, either, and that movie couldn't shut up about it. Whatever the reason, I'm glad the Chris Farleyization process has been halted.

But while this is a quasi-inspirational, quasi-respectable, family-friendly dramatic comedy, it can't entirely resist its lowbrow tendencies. For every worthwhile moment like Scott getting his teaching mojo back, there's something dumb like Scott being overly concerned about what song plays when he enters the arena. (He favors P.O.D.'s 2002 alt-metal hit "Boom," of course.) There's a sincere subplot about the importance of music in kids' lives, but there's also a moronic one about Niko and others trying to become American citizens, with the accompanying "foreigners are funny because they misunderstand things!" jokes. Every time the film tries to crawl out of the pit it was conceived in, a Sandlerian tentacle reaches up and pulls it back.

It's not enough to completely ruin it, though. Against all odds, and despite the other half-dozen lame story elements I could mention, the film wins points for being earnest and straightforward. It isn't nearly as funny or inspiring as it wants to be, but it makes a legitimate effort -- something that Zookeeper, which James and Coraci also made together -- did not do. Furthermore, it helps us prepare ourselves for the inevitable day when, ready or not, the boom finally comes.

Here Comes the Boom opens wide across the U.S. and Canada on Friday, October 12.

Around the Internet:
  • kevo42

    The funny thing is that the Kevin James movies are totally unknown in France, so for me it's just another niche film ! And I wouldn't mind having a drink with Brian Clark by the way, but that's another thing.

  • Bigdada

    Funny, how you didn't deny it being a plant. Make money however you want, just know that, I view your site because of it's niche-ness (sans ghetto). I come here to find out about movies I might not otherwise hear about. This (IMO) makes your site worth viewing.

  • Funny how you're not capable of recognizing sarcasm / when you're being mocked. It's not a plant, dumbass.

  • billydaking

    New quote for the movie poster:
    Twitchfilm says, "Not as nearly as funny or inspiring as it wants to be, but it makes a legitimate effort!"

    Yep, gotta be a plant.

  • Brian Clark

    I like, "It won't do you any harm if you happen to stumble across it." In fact, if someone photoshops that quote onto a poster, I'll buy them a drink if they are ever in Paris.

  • CharityB

    @facebook-553375329:disqus Heh, fair enough. It reminds me of people who accuse everyone who they think is wrong on the Internet of being a "troll".

    I do think that "It's not worth seeking out, but it won't do you any harm if you happen to stumble across it" is probably the apotheosis of "damning with faint phrase".

    It's like a restaurant review ("I wouldn't come out of my way to eat here, but it's a lot better than slurping down toxic sewage from a factory")

  • Eric D. Snider

    Just think how much MORE the studio would have paid me if I'd said something really good!

  • I always assumed that "plants" would be the reviewers that are irrationally praising and write comments that sound more or less like the pitch the marketing team for the movie made to the studio to get their funding ("This appealed to me and my 2.5 children who are looking for an earnest family-friendly movie enjoyable to all ages, mostly age 11 to 19!")

  • Those would count, yes, but there are people who insist that any time someone says anything even faintly positive about a mainstream movie - or any movie they don't personally like, for that matter - that someone must have paid them off to do so. Because surely we don't write about movies because we actually like a lot of them. Nah, couldn't be ...

  • Bigdada

    Dear Twitch, please stop with the "plants". It's obvious. There's a reason why I like your site, and it's not 'cause you review vanilla-hollywood flicks.

  • Yes, because clearly someone paid us to declare a movie 'not terrible'. Pfft.

    Here's an underlying principle of the site that has been present since day one: If you're going to argue that international and genre film deserves to be treated on equal footing to the mainstream, then you need to actually treat it on equal grounds as the mainstream. And that means covering everything, side by side, with no distinctions. I have no interest in making Twitch into just another niche ghetto that talks to only one audience about one type of film because that somehow makes the site cool or edgy. That's all bullshit. We work from a broad base and believe that all films deserve to be discussed on their own merits. Even the Hollywood ones.

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