This new Kevin James movie isn't as terrible as, say, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, since it has a heart and some actually funny moments, but Here Comes the Boom was highly confused about what it wants to be. There are like seven different movies overlapping here, to different ends, so throughout you aren't sure if you are supposed to want to see James get beaten down for comic effect, or win to be a hero. Let's break them down:
The Bad Teacher movie, where Scott Voss (James) is an uninspired educator who is late for work and ignores his students, until he gets inspired and makes biology fun.
The Save the Music movie, where Scott decides to help his friend Marty (Henry Winkler) keep the music program at the school (and Marty's job), mostly to screw over the principal (Greg Germann).
The romantic comedy, where dopey Scott tries repeatedly to start a relationship with the hot nurse Bella (Salma Hayek).
The underdog sports movie, where an unlikely college wrestler suddenly becomes amazing at his sport in this mid-40's and has a Rocky style battle.
The sports comedy, where Scott is really bad at MMA fighting and just gets the crap beaten out of him.
The family drama, where Scott finds a way to help his downtrodden brother (James' real life brother Gary Valentine) out of a dead-end career in order to feel inspired by life.
The rah-rah patriotic movie, where Scott helps people become American citizens.
It's a lot for one "comedy" to hold, especially since it takes a good 20 minutes before this movie actually gets moving. And because there are so many different angles, it's confusing, but also, none of these storylines actually is well serviced. The Bella/Scott relationship is rushed and unbelievable (also unbelievable is the fact that the male high school students aren't throwing themselves down the stairs in order to go to the nurse's office every day), as there's absolutely no chemistry between them.
And there's not enough really funny moments to satisfy the audience who is expecting more broad humor. Sure, it's amusing to see James get repeatedly punched in the face (or the balls) or battle in a place filled with chickens. We aren't totally immune to this physical humor. But most of the laughs come from his trainer Niko (Bas Rutten), who is desperately trying to study for his citizenship test, cope with the fact that his own MMA career was cut short by an injury and is forced to teach a spin class and something called disco streetfighting (not sure exactly what it is, but if our gym offered it, we'd try it) at a very upscale gym. He wears a range of fantastic facial expressions, and brings the fun to the movie.
Bringing the movie's tone down to a depressing level, on the other hand, Winkler's Marty, who is on the verge of losing his job while he's got a pregnant wife at home. His character has a few entertaining moments, but mainly he's just there to remind Scott why he's doing this. Germann is your typical mustache-twirling villain who is actually doing a pretty lousy job of running his school. And we'd be remiss not to mention that Charice gets a lot of screentime here, more than she ever did in her episodes on Glee. Playing a musical prodigy with a demanding father, she's totally passable even though her character is written to fill in far too many gaps... maybe so they didn't have too put actual teenagers with discernible personalities into this movie about a high school. And somehow, though he makes many cameos in the film, Joe Rogan himself never gets punched in the face. That seems like an oversight somehow.
Also, with its title being somewhat similar to Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, we couldn't help but wonder when Scott would face off against June and her forklift foot, or when Alana would show up in pageant gear to introduce a fight, but maybe (probably) that's just our own issue. But if someone out there decides to let Chubbs fight Kevin James in a cage, we're totally there. All that said, we were grateful that despite the fact that the movie is set in Boston, there were surprisingly few atrociously broad Boston accents. And we left the movie mostly unscathed, except by the obligatory scatological humor. Between this and Pitch Perfect, we've had our fill of projectile vomit lately.
What did you think of the movie? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Look back at Kevin James' unlikeliest on-screen romances.
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