Watch out – it’s Satire!
Satires unmask the idiosyncrasies of society and then mock them. It takes some measure of wit to see beyond the goofy gimmicks and mass-marketing that are spoon-fed to us every single day, and Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping does just that: it spoon-feeds us our own stupidity.
Satirical music has always struck a chord (ha) with me. Listening to catchy songs that also make you think (or laugh) is one of the most enjoyable experiences. Mockumentaries like Popstar and This Is Spinal Tap and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story pave the way for more satirical performances by shining a spotlight on what we all obsess over. Like it or not, this movie is making fun of us all. Performers like Tim Minchin and Bo Burnham are just some of today’s brilliant parody acts, inspired by geniuses from days past. I’ve been a huge fan of Weird Al for as long as I can remember, so I was pleased to see he has a small cameo as well (and that he is still appreciated)!
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping was good before it started. With a wicked writing team, great musical and acting performances, pop culture references, and some hilarious cameos that made me like a lot of people a little bit more, it exceeded my own excited expectations. (For example I was never a fan of Mariah Carey, but she earned a chuckle out of me.) Anything that makes fun of the foibles of society, I can dig: especially when it’s done so well. I found a lot of people having issues with this movie either didn’t understand it was a parody or live life with a stick up their butt. (#sorrynotsorry.) Popstar was delightful from start to finish – like any sketch from The Lonely Island.
How many times have you sung along to a horrible earworm of a song? How many times have you danced to a beat without really listening? How many times have you let lyrics go unnoticed because you’re so caught up in someone’s stardom? I’ll admit, I have. I can bet most of you have, too. Unless you are very good at keeping away from the internet or a magazine rack, you’ve been exposed to some form of celebrity.
As with any good story, tension builds in points throughout the film. The story follows the fallout of the best friend ideal, the price of fame, and under-appreciated efforts, while maintaining it’s documentary style comedy genre. The tension is quickly resolved with a sincere apology (imagine that?!), and at no point did I fear for the well-being of any of the characters. (But in a film like this, I didn’t want to.)
Beyond satirizing stardom, Popstar displays some true emotion. The audience is taken through the beginning of the best-friend relationship, into some major conflicts, and eventually to the resolve. The most endearing performance belonged to Owen (played by The Lonely Island‘s own Jorma Taccone), who was desperately trying to “Parent Trap” his friends, Conner (Andy Samberg) and Lawrence (Akiva Schaffer) into getting “back together”.
Popstar shows us what society does to people in the spotlight: in desperation, successful people can resort to moronic maneuvers to hold our tiny attention spans. You can blame the media for the “news” we receive, but you can also take accountability for what YOU yourself are paying attention to. Conner4Real‘s songs are genius in that they make us listen to lyrics that require us to think about what someone in the spotlight is saying (and they’re crazy catchy). The Lonely Island once again proves that they are comedic and musical geniuses.
I do wish Popstar featured more of Joan Cusack, but with all the cameos in the film, I understand why some moments were put on the back-burner. Among the best cameos is Justin Timberlake, but I will let you see and decide for yourself.
I guess my only complaint is that Pink was not an actual Unicorn Trainer.