I just finished watching the film Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, a mockumentary from the mind of Judd Apatow, Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer of the music group The Lonely Island. I have seen many of The Lonely Island’s music videos before (“Lazy Sunday”, “Threw It On the Ground”, “I’m on a Boat”), so I was really excited to watch this film when it came out. But I of course at the time didn’t think I was emotionally ready to see it, and sure enough, I read the advisory content review and there is some graphic nudity in it. But then I just decided, If I want to watch this film, I can just close my eyes when they feature the nudity scenes. So I closed my eyes for the first half of the movie because I didn’t know when it was going to happen, but then I knew where the scene was thanks to the movie reviews of the advisory content, so I didn’t have to watch it with any surprise.
This film is basically making fun of the phenomenon of celebrity and how it impacts us when we are young. While it doesn’t specifically mention it’s making fun of Justin Bieber, the title of the film suggests that it is a parody of Justin Bieber’s documentary Never Say Never and based on the way Conner abuses his fame, it definitely looked like it was a parody of Justin Bieber’s rise to fame. In the film, Conner chronicles his life growing up as a drum prodigy and making music with his friends as part of a group called The Style Boyz (a cheesy play on stereotypical male pop groups such as The Backstreet Boys). The Style Boyz produce all of these very silly-sounding albums and make it big, but then, in stereotypical boy pop group fashion, they break up. Owen, the DJ, does his own thing, and Lawrence moves to a farm in Colorado where he does woodcarving for a living because he was done with the pressures of fame. One of the funniest scenes was when Conner is singing a song in concert called “I’m So Humble”, where he talks about how little he shows off his ostentatious lifestyle even as he is performing on a large stage with all these showy expensive props (including a pricey Adam Levine hologram who sings the chorus). Conner’s performance is a dig at celebrities who do something called “humblebragging”, which is where successful people try to act as if their success is nothing while, in reality, they are trying to make themselves feel good about themselves by showing off their success. Basically, when someone humble-brags, they act modest when they are actually bragging. Conner tries to seem modest but he actually has an extremely inflated sense of self.
I also liked that the film featured interviews by several real musicians and actors, such as DJ Khaled, A$AP Rocky, Carrie Underwood, Nas, Ringo Starr, and Simon Cowell. Sarah Silverman also plays Conner’s publicity agent. I cannot even begin to imagine how hard it was for the people in this film to not keep a straight face because The Lonely Island is hilarious, and during these interviews the artists seemed so earnest about their love of Conner (which the film is supposed to make fun of). In another scene, Deborah (played by Maya Rudolph) releases a series of home appliances that play Conner’s songs when in use. The refrigerators and dishwashers play “I’m So Humble” and his other hits when you open them, and this whole scene just adds to the overall goofy nature of the mockumentary. To add insult to injury, this brand of Conner-brand appliances causes immediate power outtages around the world and CMZ (a parody of the entertainment channel TMZ) roasts Conner (Chelsea Peretti, who plays Gina alongside Andy Samberg’s Jake Peralta in Brooklyn 99, makes an appearance as one of the CMZ staff).
Honestly I am really glad I saw this film. After seeing A Star is Born and crying my eyes out later, I needed to watch a movie about the music industry that would make me go to sleep laughing instead of crying.
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. 1 hr 27 min. Rated R for some graphic nudity, language throughout, sexual content and drug use.