Because bake sales just won’t cut it
Published: Sunday, October 14, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
Film:Here Comes the Boom
Release Date:Oct. 12
If anyone endured half of the beating Kevin James’ character receives in Here Comes the Boom, that person would be in dire need of an artificial skeleton and possibly a brain transplant.
While fighting with mixed martial arts, James’ misfit hero is meticulously clubbed, kneed, bashed and pummeled. He dislocates his left shoulder during a match and carries on fighting. Disbelief can only go so far.
Yet these inconsistencies aren’t critical in a film like this. Here Comes the Boom is a well-written comedy, filled with endless excitement and energy. James co-wrote and co-produced this project himself, demonstrating that if an actor can’t write himself a good role, nobody can.
Scott Voss (James, Hotel Transylvania) is the apathetic high school biology teacher, who was honored as teacher of the year a decade prior and still uses the title as an empty slogan. Voss has lost his teaching mojo; he’s had it up to his scruffy chin with a declining system that continues to make budget cuts.
Among these cuts is the entire music program, leaving its director, Marty (Henry Winkler, Children’s Hospital), out of a job. Winkler is believable as a confided music fanatic, and he naturally embraces the role rather than overacting his part. The audience doesn’t want this musician to lose his tenure, especially with a newborn child on the way.
The audience knows where this is going – Voss, as all movie protagonists are contracted to do, must inspire an ingenious and utterly preposterous plan to raise $50,000 to save Marty’s job. The school nurse, Bella (Salma Hayek, Savages), raises nearly nothing with a bake sale and Voss learns that his second job also makes squat.
The plot leads Voss to watch a UFC match. This contest is so brutal that the loser is awarded $10,000 just for being massacred. Voss flashbacks to his glory high school wrestling days and truly believes he can endure enough physical punishment to lose UFC fights and raise the money.
James portrays a convincing wrestler but successfully reminds us that he is a worn-down biology teacher who doesn’t belong in UFC.
This basic premise could easily serve as another witless slapstick comedy that’s vacant of any evocative thought. But James’ script wasn’t merely written for a paycheck. James believes in his story and cares about his characters’ fates, as does the audience. Here Comes the Boom is the kind of film that kids itself by embracing its own absurdity and simply having fun on a somewhat-mature level.
The film takes UFC seriously. Real-life MMA expert Bas Rutten (Zookeeper) plays Niko, Voss’ personal trainer. The decision to cast Rutten was key because it highlights James’ dedication to delivering his project with quality. A veteran Hollywood actor could’ve easily been hired to present himself as a trainer – much like Nick Nolte’s role in Warrior – but nothing is better than the real deal. Rutten turns out to be the most memorable character of the film, delivering a performance that’s both fierce and drop-dead hilarious.
Frank Coraci (Zookeeper) helmed the director’s chair, after an inconsistent career that features the mediocre Click and the atrocious The Waterboy. Here Comes the Boom is probably his best film as of yet, mostly because of its script, which is flooded with humor but remains serious when it has to be. It’s unmistakably impressive for a film to be conscious of when to be funny and when not to be.
The climax conventionally becomes predictable, but at least it arrives with a zing. The film’s target audiences will surely have fun because people who trek and pay overpriced cinema tickets to see a film like Here Comes the Boom aren’t in search for a moral lesson or mental expansion.
People will be expecting to laugh and enjoy an experience, and this film will deliver.