14 Nov

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

“Ever since I was born, I was dope.”

– Conner

The Setup

We have made it to the end of A Parody is Born, folks. No more movies based on musical artists after this, for a while at least. Fortunately, we leave you with our swan song and first time film for all of us. We’re going to hit you with a final pop-themed post: Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping.

The Meal

We started off with one of everyone’s favorite food that pops: popcorn. We took that popcorn, balled it up with cream cheese and cheddar cheese and maple syrup as the adhesive, then rolled it in bacon, everyone’s favorite food to add to literally anything. We then stuck that savory cluster onto a stick and called it a popcorn pop. Was it the best way to eat popcorn? No. Would we recommend it? Again, no. Was it at least fun to make? Yes. That was all it had going for it.

Next, we rolled up some beef pops, or as normal people call them, meat balls. These lil’ fellas are a mixture of pork, beef, and bread soaked in milk. Okay, somehow that description makes it sound less appetizing than our appetizer, but guess what? These balls were great. They put IKEA meatballs to shame. What took them from 9/10 to 10/10 was the homemade sweet meatball sauce. Mmmm.

You had to see this one coming, right? This is the only food on a stick that people actually use the _____ pops naming convention for. That’s right, we made cake pops. Now, to continue our theme of tasty descriptions (this is definitely not our healthiest “meal”), we made yellow cake from a box, rubbed it together until it crumbled, poured some frosting in it, then squeezed it into little balls. Picture that whole process next time you think about buying a cake pop. Anyway, what we really struggled with was the exterior frosting. We tried to do a chocolate shell (someone forgot to buy candy coating), but the weight of the chocolate kept destroying the cake pop. It would just break in half and fall right off the stick. Out of this entire box of cake mix, we were only able to get one pop to survive the frosting process. Here it is, in all its glory. It is beautiful. *Sniff*

The Drink

Depending on where you come from, you fall on one side of the Soda-Pop-Coke stage, but let’s imagine for a moment that everyone says pop, so when we say we are making a cocktail with pop in it, you know exactly what we are talking about. Call us snobs but cocktails with pop in it aren’t really our cup of tea so we needed to find one we would actually enjoy and finally settled on the poptail called: Harborside Orange Crush. This poptail features Vodka, Orange Juice, Orange Curaçao, and Sierra Mist. Not too much to it, and the result is just about what you would expect, but we needed pop in our cocktail, okay?

The Rules

The following rules apply to all movies in the A Parody is Born lineup:

🎼  Drink for every new song.

🎛  Drink when they turn it up to eleven (at your discretion, and this can happen more than once).

👯  Drink when music brings people together.

The Movie

There is a pretty easy way to determine if you are going to like Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping or not: ask yourself, do I like The Lonely island? Because this is very much a Lonely Island movie. If you like The Lonely Island, you’re probably going to like this movie. If you don’t, well, this probably isn’t going to be the one to convert you.

In a way, Popstar is like a The Lonely Island greatest hits album. I mean, it’s a movie where Andy Samberg’s character makes music and then the songs are shown to the audience in SNL digital short style music videos. It’s kinda on the nose, but we wouldn’t expect anything less from these boys. And on the topic of SNL: like any good Lonely Island movie, they included a veritable who’s who of SNL alumni: everyone from Sarah Silverman to Maya Rudolf to Will Forte showed up. They also included a bunch of cameos from people who guest starred on Lonely Island songs, like Akon, Snoop Dogg, and, of course, Justin Timberlake (make of that what you will). Like a greatest hits album, Popstar is full of crowd-pleasers and consistently keeps the energy up. It may not be wholly original, but hell, it’s a parody movie. It’s derivative by design.

A review of Popstar wouldn’t be complete without covering the songs. The best execution had to be “Equal Rights,” a clear spoof on Macklemore’s “Same Love.” Not only do they nail Macklemore’s cadence, but they also capture the self-centered nature that “Same Love” falls into.  Conner smugly acts like he’s the world’s greatest ally for coming out with this song despite centering himself, a cisgendered straight man, in a narrative that he has no stake or skin in. The Lonely Island are clearly poking fun at Macklemore’s insistence at the beginning of “Same Love” that he is indeed straight when Samberg sings “I’m not gay, but if I was, I would want equal rights. I’m not gay, but if I were, I would marry who I like,” and throws in the occasional straight touchstone phrase like “Sports!” or “Hot wings!” throughout the song (as if some of us don’t love getting up close and personal with some bone-in wings).

Will Popstar stand the test of time? … Probably not. As a spoof movie, we’re sure many jokes will go over audiences heads in decades to come. Most of the jokes, like the aforementioned “Equal Rights,” require a hyper-specific knowledge of early 21st-century pop music. It’s hardly the most specific joke either – they joke about Justin Beiber’s monkey and Deadmau5’s mask, and, well, the specifics around the assassination of Bin Laden. It’s easy to laugh at now because we’re in the middle of it, but it doesn’t have the legs to last long. Enjoy it now while you can!

The Reviews

André: Maybe the best Lonely Island movie? Look, I’m a Lonely Island fan. I watched all the digital shorts the day they came out. I was always excited to show off the Awesometown pilot to people who hadn’t heard of it. My friends and I listened to “I’m On A Boat,” “Jizzed in my Pants,” and “I Just Had Sex” so many times we had the lyrics memorized, so it should come as no surprise I like Popstar. Popstar is peak Lonely Island. It’s surprisingly witty, sharp, and self-aware while at the same time being so random and just delightfully dumb. I laughed throughout the movie and have continued laughing as I re-listen to the soundtrack. I’m already excited to show off Popstar to people who skipped it when it came out.

Leanna: I’m glad we bought this movie because I need to watch it again. Not for the reasons you might think, like wanting to listen to the original songs over and over again or to revisit some of the funniest moments. I honestly don’t remember this film very well at all. I still have a generally positive feeling about watching it (I remember laughing particularly hard at a joke Maya Rudolph tells while showing of a refrigerator with Conner’s music in it), but I honestly couldn’t even tell you the main plot points. Maybe that speaks to the overall quality of the story, or maybe I just wasn’t paying attention. Who knows? It’s not like we’re paid to do this. If you’ve read this far and you really have a bone to pick with me about how half-assed my review is for this movie, by all means give me a shout on Twitter @lhrobb.

Ben: 60%. There aren’t many movies where, during the time you are watching it, you are enjoying it, and laughing, and maybe you recognize that slows a bit in the second half, but largely you come away from the experience with a positive feeling on the film. And then, in the hours and days after that viewing as you are mulling it over in your mind, thinking about what the movie was going for, how it got there, and if you ever would have any interest in watching it again that you notice that your feelings on the movie have changed. It is not a recent release so you haven’t read anything recently to influence your view, just the experience has soured. That is largely where I am at with Popstar at this point. Jokes and references are commonplace for a movie from The Lonely Island and SNL alums, but there is a stark difference in when it is used to cover up a threadbare story, and when it is in service of the story it is trying to tell. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping falls into the former, where the conflict that the movie has been trying to resolve fizzles out quickly, creating a lackluster ending, and the entire journey up until that point feels hollow as a result of it. This is especially true when you compare it to other work from the Lonely Island crew. Hot Rod is a film that I have a surprising amount of affection for and I view its success as a result of the clean, concise story it tries to tell. There is a rise (Hot Rod improving and working to save his father), fall (realizing that everyone is laughing at him and that maybe his journey was for naught), and eventual culmination (Hot Rod realizing that his change to a more “adult” life isn’t representative of who he is or what he wants to be in life), and the jokes throughout the film are largely in service of that story. Lonely Island will always include their zany and humorous one-off moments that don’t quite connect to a larger story, but Hot Rod succeeds in pulling it all together with a decent story and Popstar barely even presents much of one.