Courtesy of TRACY BENNET
The new Happy Madison-produced film “Here Comes the Boom,” starring Kevin James (“Paul Blart: Mall Cop”) tricks audiences into thinking they’ve signed up for a cinema experience full of laughs. Only after the film is over do viewers realize they’ve been duped.
The conceit of “Boom” seems like exactly the kind of concept two inebriated men would come up with to find a way to buy more beer. Scott Voss (James) is a down-and-out, working class, tough-guy biology teacher who works at a dilapidated public school. When the principal (Greg Germann, “Fly Away”) announces that the school must cut programs, it endangers his job of his friend, the affable music teacher Marty (Henry “Fonzie” Winkler, “Happy Days”). Voss vouches for Marty to raise the money in any way possible.
Finding extra work as a teacher for future citizens, he comes into contact with a former mixed marshall arts trainer Niko (Bas Rutten, “Zookeeper”). While watching an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fight, Voss discovers he can make money fighting as an MMA fighter, thus finding a way to raise the money need to save the program.
As improbable as all this may seem, the suspension of disbelief needed to believe that James can fight the various mastodons he rumbles with is immense. The movie paints him as a man of many talents. He can draw complex cell systems, fight in MMA matches and inspire kids with music!
Rather than making any meaningful comedic turns, the film would rather ratchet up the slapstick and tone down the logic. Winkler’s character Marty is no more than a doddering old man and can apparently make a high school band comprised of moderately trained musicians sound like a 150 piece metropolitan orchestra. Niko is just as corny, hamming up his lines past disbelief into cringe-inducing levels of hokey boredom.
Salma Hayek (“Savages”) plays a buxom health teacher whom James tries futilely to ask out on a date. Unfortunately, her one-dimensional character plays no larger a role than as James’s love interest.
Frank Coraci (“Zookeeper”) directs with a dyspeptic attitude toward balancing drama and comedy. The final fight contains impressive moments of cinematography. But considering most of the film is so mind-numbing, by the time the film arrives at the scene, it’s expended all its legitimacy.
The plotting seems to grab every low-hanging fruit, dangling the story points like bait. The film seems less like an attempt to tell a story and more like a giant advertisement for UFC, as at many points UFC regular commentators like Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg show up.
“Here Comes the Boom” has no substance, lots of American jingoism and very little style. The script is composed of Orwellian inspirational quotes from school posters like “Don’t give up on your dreams” or “Follow your heart,” and the title song is played ad nauseam. It’s less knockout fun and more knock-you-out narcolepsy.