Light­weight com­edy lack­ing in punch

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES -

ID-FRIENDLY fun­ny­man Kevin James is at his cud­dli­est in Here Comes the Boom. And he has to be. This amus­ing but some­times un­set­tling com­edy mar­ries the teacher-turns-to-mixed mar­tial arts may­hem of War­rior to that whole­some fam­ily dram­edy Mr Hol­land’s Opus. It works, af­ter a fash­ion. But that doesn’t mean you won’t wince.

James plays Scott Voss, a Bos­ton high school bi­ol­ogy teacher who’s burnt out, ha­bit­u­ally late for class and not shy about telling the rare ea­ger stu­dent (Filipino singer-ac­tress Charice) that what he’s teach­ing and what they’re learn­ing ‘‘just doesn’t mat­ter’’.

But he’s touched by see­ing that rare col­league who is still in­spired and in­spir­ing. So when put-upon Mr Streb (Henry Winkler) and his mu­sic pro­gram are the first things on the chop­ping block, af­ter Prin­ci­pal Betcher (Greg Ger­mann) slashes the bud­get, Scott is moved to act. He’ll raise the $US48,000 needed to save his friend’s job and his orches­tra.

Bake sales won’t be enough, as the fetch­ing school nurse (Salma Hayek) dis­cov­ers. And part-time work teach­ing cit­i­zen­ship classes to im­mi­grants won’t raise much cash ei­ther. But that col­li­sion with a col­lec­tion of semi-stereo­types is where Scott meets the gre­gar­i­ous Niko, played with an am­a­teur­ish verve by mar­tial artist Bas Rut­ten.

Niko, who teaches ‘‘disco street fight­ing’’ classes, used to be a mixed mar­tial arts fighter. Scott con­vinces this Dutch brawler to train him so that he can get into the ring and get paid for it.

James, Winkler, Hayek and Rut­ten make an amus­ing en­sem­ble and click to­gether. While di­rec­tor Frank ( Zookeeper) Co­raci does a great job with the fights and the slap­stick stuff, there’s too much ‘‘in­side’’ stuff re­gard­ing mixed-mar­tial arts. Faces show up and the au­di­ence is sup­posed to know who they are. It’s a grow­ing sport, but it’s still a fringe dweller. Most au­di­ences won’t know who Mark Del­la­Grotte is when he shows up at Scott’s train­ing.

As Here Comes the Boom – that’s the song Scott wants to use as his en­ter-the-arena mu­sic – winds to­wards the end­ing we all see coming, the vi­o­lence of it all can be a bit much. Mixed-mar­tial arts is a bloody, bru­tal, brawl­ing sport; its fight­ers are all mus­cles, tat­toos, shaved heads and, in the case of the guy we know Scott will have to fight (Krzysztof Soszyn­ski), metal teeth.

While Boom doesn’t pull its punches, it’s still a light­weight genre pic­ture, a patch­work com­edy that makes good use of its big­gest patch – Kevin James.

opens to­day.

Kevin James in mixed mar­tial arts com­edy

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