None more Spinal Tap

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - DON­ALD CLARKE

POP­STAR: NEVER STOP NEVER STOP­PING ★★★

Di­rected by Akiva Schaf­fer and Jorma Tac­cone Star­ring Andy Sam­berg, Jorma Tac­cone, Akiva Schaf­fer, Sarah Sil­ver­man, Tim Mead­ows, Justin Tim­ber­lake, Maya Ru­dolph, Bill Hader 16 cert, gen re­lease, 86 min As the mock-doc­u­men­tary has set in over the decades, we have be­come used to the sug­ges­tion that some film – one a month, maybe – is “a lit­tle like This is Spinal Tap”.

Pop­star: Never Stop Never Stop­ping takes the com­par­i­son to an­other level. At the risk of ex­cit­ing the lawyers, one could ar­gue that this di­vert­ing Andy Sam­berg ve­hi­cle is a re­make of Rob Reiner’s durable clas­sic.

Sam­berg plays Con­ner4Real, a pop star who, some years after suc­cess with a boy band, sets out to re­lease a solo al­bum. There really is a scene in which he and his fol­low­ers fail to be­lieve the neg­a­tive re­views. ( Rolling Stone awards it “the shit emoji out of 10”.)

There really is a se­quence in which an elab­o­rate stage prop – here a costume in the style of Daft Punk – causes the mu­si­cians great in­con­ve­nience.

The two main tal­ents really do be­come es­tranged be­fore be­ing eased back to­gether in the fi­nal frames. That de­li­cious ti­tle nods to­wards the Justin Bieber doc Never Say Never, but we’re not that eas­ily dis­tracted. It’s none-more Spinal Tap.

It shouldn’t need to be said that the film fails to live up to its pre­de­ces­sor. The char­ac­ters aren’t so clearly drawn. The tone is in­suf­fi­ciently var­ied.

Most sig­nif­i­cantly, it can’t hope to re­cap­ture the sheer nov­elty of that hugely orig­i­nal en­ter­tain­ment. But Pop­star is very amus­ing in fits and starts.

Sam­berg and his posse (who work as Lonely Is­land on Satur­day Night Live) have a good ear for con­tem­po­rary pop and de­liver one or two crack­ers that, if heard fleet­ingly, could pass as gen­uine hits. Par­tic­u­larly funny is Equal Rights, an ar­gu­ment for same sex-mar­riage, dur­ing which Con­ner re­peat­edly clar­i­fies that he’s “not gay”.

Sadly one or two num­bers – Finest Girl (Bin Laden Song) in par­tic­u­lar – ex­haust their joke in the first bar be­fore re­peat­ing it to the point of nau­sea.

Pop­star bombed on its US re­lease, but, packed to burst­ing with celebrity cameos, it feels like a film that will have a long af­ter­life.

Come to think of it, no­body went to see Spinal Tap when it came out.

A blinged-up Andy Sam­berg as Con­ner4Real

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