No­body puts the Kev in a cor­ner

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILMREVIEWS - DON­ALD CLARKE

HERE COMES THE BOOM ★★ Di­rected by Frank Co­raci. Star­ring Kevin James, Salma Hayek, Henry Win­kler, Greg Ger­mann, Joe Ro­gan, Gary Valen­tine 12A cert, gen­eral re­lease, 104 min KEVIN JAMES is back. Over the past few years the portly ac­tor has emerged as the ac­cept­able face of bad com­edy. The films are rarely master­pieces – though Paul Bart: Mall Cop de­serves redis­cov­ery – but the Kev has a warmth that tends to dis­tract from the creaky di­a­logue and mind­less sight gags.

Here Comes the Boom be­gins as an anti-clas­sic of the James genre. The star plays a dis­il­lu­sioned bi­ol­ogy teacher who hatches a more than usu­ally ab­surd plan to stop the mu­sic mas­ter – an ir­re­sisti- ble Henry Win­kler – from be­ing cast out with the garbage. For no good rea­son other than the press­ing de­mands of high-con­cept, Kevin elects to be­come a mixed­mar­tial arts fighter. Even if he loses, the fees are so healthy he will, surely, earn enough money to fi­nance the threat­ened mu­sic pro­gramme.

The ban­ter at school is tol­er­a­ble enough. Salma Hayek flat­ters Mr James by play­ing the re­luc­tant love in­ter­est. Greg Ger­mann (you’ll know him when you see him) of­fers re­li­able sleaze as the hor­ri­ble prin­ci­pal. It’s Mr Hol­land’s Opus: The Low-Brow Com­edy.

The pic­ture goes weirdly, dis­turbingly off the rails when the hero ven­tures into the world of cage fight­ing. No pre­vi­ous fam­ily com­edy has, surely, ad­dressed this de­gree of gra­tu­itous vi­o­lence with such a joc­u­lar tone.

Read­ing (it seems) from a press re­lease pro­vided by the Ul­ti­mate Fight­ing Cham­pi­onship – whose logo is prod­uct-placed so promis­cu­ously that even the cur­rent James Bond might balk – James ex­plains that the sport is no more dan­ger­ous than box­ing or au­torac­ing. This may be true. But much of the fi­nal act in­volves the sort of be­hav­iour you’d ex­pect to en­counter out­side a Por­ta­d­own pub at clos­ing time.

Couldn’t Kevin have raised the money by sell­ing hard drugs or traf­fick­ing un­der­age women? The clos­ing scenes would, un­der those cir­cum­stances, have seemed only marginally less pe­cu­liar.

Good clean fun: Kevin James, Salma Hayek and Henry Win­kler en­joy the mixed-mar­tial arts ac­tion

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