Directed by: Frank Coraci (Zookeeper)
Starring: Kevin James, Henry Winkler, Salma Hayek, Bas Rutten, Greg Germann
Kevin James has built a career on top of a foundation of mediocrity, so it should come as no surprise that his latest, Here Comes the Boom, is a living testament to this fact. This isn’t to say Here Comes the Boom is the worst movie I’ve seen (it’s not even in the top three worst movies I’ve seen this month), but it might be the most superfluous. What we have is a feel-good, uplifting sports comedy made by a bunch of people who have built careers working on Adam Sandler films, topped off by the milquetoast comic stylings of James. The results, while not quite ugly, are pretty dire.
James plays Scott Voss, a lazy, often inconsiderate high school biology teacher who’s bored with his job. But when budget cuts threaten to kill the school’s music program and lay off a fellow teacher (Henry Winkler, doing a vague — and unfortunate — Woody Allen impersonation), Scott decides to raise the money to save both by going to the extreme measure of becoming an MMA fighter. That’s the setup, and its a pretty flimsy one since Scott is portrayed as self-centered and a bit oafish. Why he’d choose to voluntarily get bloodied and beaten is only really hinted at, but these are not the things Here Comes the Boom cares about.
Instead, the entire film is a conglomeration of messy plotting, lazy filmmaking and broad comedy, topped off with attempts at supposedly inspirational pap. There’s no sense of economy here, as dumb gag upon dumb gag is shoved into the movie with little regard for pacing. A short scene involving a food fight serves no purpose other than to see Henry Winkler get hit in the face with a cheesecake, and the film’s final shot of a nondescript skyscraper adds to the sense that there’s zero forethought at play here. Most of the jokes involve hoary physical comedy, bits of off-kilter Adam Sandler-lite absurdity and a little bit of vomit. The upshot of all of this is Boom’s gooey sentimentalism, since everyone learns how to truly be happy (in between James getting punched in the face) before the film reaches its predictable — and long overdue — happy ending.
Besides being a reminder of how likable Salma Hayek can be (and how often her talents are wasted), what else is there to really recommend about this movie? Unless you simply enjoy the Schadenfreude of watching James get beaten up, then not much. Rated PG for bouts of MMA sports violence, some rude humor and language.