The film industry is f*cked.
Even on this blog this isn’t a new opinion, but it really is true. While the numbers on the surface look okay, many of the major films released this year made less at the box office than anticipated.
But worse than the numbers are the quality of films themselves. Only two of the top ten grossing films of the year are “original” (the other eight are reboots, sequels or adapted from comics). There’s only two months of the year left and we still have Doctor Strange, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story– all adaptations or sequels – to come.
For a film-lover, this is pretty depressing. It wasn’t too long ago that, if I had a spare few hours, I’d head to the cinema. But with a free day a couple of weekends ago I checked the listings, only to find there wasn’t anything I wanted to see. In the end I had to travel thirty minutes by train to catch the one showing of Kubo And The Two Strings that day (at least it was worth it).
But everything else held no interest for me. It all seemed so boring. If there is one thing cinema should not be, with all of this money and talent, is boring.
But then again, a film that very much did appeal to me, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, did dismally at the box office.
Popstar is a mockumentary following fictional musician Connor4Real, played by Andy Samberg. It tracks Connor’s attempts at following up on his smash hit debut solo album, “Thriller, Also”, whilst dealing with the pressures of fame in 2016.
I feel safe in saying that it is possibly the funniest film I have seen in years.
The best way to sum it up would be to say it’s Airplane! meets This Is Spinal Tap*. It has the volume of jokes of the former, with irreverent, irrelevant jokes being thrown at you so regularly you’ve barely recovered from the previous one before you burst out laughing again. The TMZ-parody news company that pop up every half an hour or so has an ever-growing drink flask gag that’s straight out of something like Naked Gun.
(* Just to clarify, I’m in no way saying this is as good as either Airplane! Or This Is Spinal Tap. Very few films are. But it’s the closest thing to a spiritual successor I’ve seen.)
And yet it gets the mockumentary aspect right as well. It’s a tired style these days, but off the top of my head I’m struggling to think of one I enjoyed more besides Spinal Tap and The Office (UK version, and definitely not the David Brent film). It manages to be both satirical and idiotic, like South Park or the glory years of The Simpsons.
Like Spinal Tap, the music is outstanding. The film is written by the Lonely Island group, and the music is exactly what you’d expect from them if you’ve heard any of their comedy albums. “Incredible Thoughts” is so familiar I thought I’d heard it before, and “Legalize It” (a song about crack) could have been from any of their albums. But the real highlight is “Finest Girl (Bin Laden Song)”. I shouldn’t be singing that to myself as much as I do.
Really, the quality of music is kind of mind-boggling. They’re all beyond idiotic, but catchier than 90% of what I’ve heard on the radio lately.
Take the below as an example. Give it a watch, it’s only a couple of minutes long. It was a deleted scene:
I’ve only watched this twice, and yet I’ve found myself walking around the flat this weekend singing “I hope you get buttf*cked in prison”. Again, this was a deleted scene, meaning it wasn’t considered worthy of being in the film itself. And yet, it’s so catchy I can’t stop singing it despite, you know, the lyrics.
All things considered, it was one of the most enjoyable films I have seen in a long, long time. And yet it was a complete flop at the box office.
How much of a flop? Well, in a world where X Men: Apocalypse can make $544million at the box office, Popstar made $9million. That’s $11million less than its budget.
I can’t say that you will be guaranteed to love it as much as I did, as these things are subjective. The likelihood you will laugh as much as I did is based on you having the same juvenile sense of humour I do.
However, if you are tired of going to the cinema and having to choose between a reboot of a film from your childhood, or the 400th comic book adaption of the year, you really should check this out.
The film-making process is now a purely financial one, based on ticking certain boxes that are intended to maximise profit as much as possible. James L. Brooks put it brilliantly in his interview with Marc Maron when he said:
“There used to be a time in movies where, if you went in and said ‘I’ve had a crazy idea’, people would lean forward. I don’t think they’re leaning forward anymore”.
We need people to take more of a chance again. Cinema is too enjoyable a medium for the producers to solely be asking “how does this tick the criteria we have that tells us how to maximise profits?”. If it’s not a proven commodity that they think we’ll mindlessly throw money at then it doesn’t exist. There’s no soul in it anymore. It’s just not fun.
When there is a film that bucks that trend, it needs our support to show we want more of it. If we don’t go to watch good things, they won’t make good things. Let’s make Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping the cult classic it deserves to be, and prove there is money to be made in doing high-quality, creative things.
Because this is an excellent film.
Popstar Rating: 9 Adam Levine Holograms out of 10
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