I’ve been tossing this 73 Sports Movies in 73 Days installment back and forth in my brain for a few weeks, since I decided to leave Here Comes the Boom on in the background while restocking my origami shop on Etsy, and I didn’t really want to write about this movie – or have to watch it the whole way through again – because Happy Madison movies do awful things to my anger levels. But of all the Adam Sandler and Co. films that I’ve had to watch for my Worst Movies of the Year lists, this one has always left me the most conflicted.
I’ve never hated Here Comes the Boom as much as I hate the formulaic game of Mad Libs that these stupid movies follow, when they could actually be pretty sweet and endearing if they tried. So f*ck it, let’s break this stupid-but-thoughtful movie down.
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If you close your eyes, take a deep breath, expel all preconceived notions about Happy Madison and Kevin James from your brain, and then open your eyes and watch that trailer, you can be tricked into thinking that he’s trying. Because after watching it three times in the nine months since it was released in theaters, I’m still sort of under the impression that James was not only trying in this one – as opposed to Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Zookeeper and the Grown Ups films – but that it could have been good.
I know, I hate admitting it because it makes me feel like all the kids at my cafeteria table are moving to other tables, but I think, nay believe, that Kevin James could be a good comedic actor if he actually gave a sh*t and wasn’t suckling at the Sandler teat out of whatever misguided sense of loyalty and half-assed ability to make a couple fart noises and collect seven figures. I hate admitting it, but in the Dutch oven that was Hitch, he was the opening in the blanket.
But don’t get me wrong, I’d gladly be known as the fat guy who falls down if my check had all those zeroes, but it’s possible to actually entertain people and evolve without having to resort to 75% of the joke being that your character’s name rhymes with fart.
The Plot That Was Disqualified For Too Many Nut Shots
Scott Voss is a 40-something year old biology teacher at a typical school in Anywhere, USA, as the creative arts programs are being cut left and right, despite the fact that there are talented kids who need those programs to achieve their dreams of becoming world class musicians or whatever. Meanwhile, the smart solution would be to shut down the majority of classes and programs and have American kids focused on technology, engineering, sciences and software from early ages so we can determine the trades that each child is better suited for and then organize them into classes from there as they progress in both age and education.
Oops, sorry. I thought this was my Karl/Richard Marx fan forum, through which I recruit people to do my laundry and send me brownies under the guise that I’m going to lead us all to a utopian future. Email me privately for additional details.
ANYWAY, Scott is pissed off that some of his fellow teachers, like the Fonz, find their jobs threatened by these cuts, so he vows to raise the $48,000 that the school needs to keep the music department going by taking on odd jobs. But fortunately for all of us who don’t want to see Kevin James washing cars in a white t-shirt, he learns that a UFC fighter can make $10,000 just for losing while watching a PPV fight at Niko’s apartment. Niko is a student in the night class that Scott is teaching for foreigners trying to pass their nationalization exams, and he’s also a former UFC fighter played by Bas Rutten, so everything works out and they agree to help each other toward their goals.
Meanwhile, Salma Hayek plays another teacher named Bella, and Scott wants to win her heart, so instead of doing something creative or adding any sort of interesting element to their courtship, Scott bets her that if he dunks a basketball, she has to go on a date with him. It’s the same tactics that Mr. Shoop used with hot, young Kirstie Alley in Summer School and the same that Happy Gilmore used on hot, young, but not as hot as older Julie Bowen in Happy Gilmore and the very, very same that Van Wilder failed with against hot, mostly sober Tara Reid.
That brings me to my first sidebar:
If You Want To Write A Movie, Just Follow This Plot Outline
I’m convinced that if you stop for gas in Los Angeles, you can pick up a pamphlet with this cookie cutter plot outline in it, and if you can complete a full screenplay, you will be able to write movies for C-list actors for the rest of eternity.
1) The star is a goofball loser with a heart of gold.
2) He works in a profession that requires him to be around children, and he loves kids but has none of his own, because he’s married to his job and/or awkward.
3) He just so happens to work with or around a very attractive woman who is stuck in friend zone.
4) Something happens that affects the budget of the team/class/church group/after school club that he works with and they won’t be able to continue.
5) But then he gets the idea to raise money by taking on an extra job or using all of his extra time to complete a series of odd tasks for extra money.
6) The hot woman takes notice and encourages him but still won’t go out with him.
7) He dares her to pull off a stunt that he knows she can’t pull off for the sake of winning a date. In some cases it might be the opposite, that he vows he can pull off the impossible, but either way it results in the hot woman inexplicably agreeing to a date with the dorky guy. (In the case of a movie like Revenge of the Nerds, which we’ll get to tomorrow, this step is skipped for the sake of 1980s assault that is disguised as comedy.)
8) The hot woman realizes over one meal or stroll through the park that she’s in love with this dipshit, and now she’s on board to help him.
9) UH OH, SOMETHING WENT WRONG! (In the case of Here Comes the Boom, that something was one of the school d-bags stealing all the money that Scott had been earning and collecting.)
10) Now we’re back to ground zero and the protagonist geek dork has to find one all-or-nothing event or game that he can participate in to win what he needs to save the rec center/school/class/Boy Scouts.
11) Of course he accomplishes the feat and saves everything, most likely because of the incredible show of support of the fans or his friends watching. In rare cases, he won’t accomplish it but will learn a lesson and then someone will show up and save the kids anyway, because of karma or some sh*t like that.
The end. Go write yourselves a few dozen of those movies and chances are you’ll make a few million bucks over your cocaine-fueled career.
Back To This Film’s Disappointing Cliché Of A Plot
Scott tries his hand at a number of underground fights to get used to getting his ass kicked, all with the hopes that he can quickly climb the ladder and work his way into a UFC PPV preliminary fight while we all watch and make funny jokes about how stupid his ring music is. Fortunately, despite Scott being a horrible, awful fighter, someone who is scheduled to fight Krzysztof Soszynski has to bail and the UFC offers the $10,000 guaranteed payday to Scott and he takes it only after Niko tried to screw him over out of jealousy. This is stupid because Scott was busting his ass to help Niko become an American citizen and this is how he repays him? Dick move, Bas Rutten.)
Krzysztof is kicking Scott’s ass the whole way, but then someone sprinkled fairy dust on the octagon and the kids started chanting and Scott suddenly realized that he had the power to defeat a seasoned fighter, who has been trained for years by professionals and is significantly younger, all along. Scott wins the $50,000, saves the music class, convinces the little Asian girl’s dad that music is her life, gets Niko his green card and makes out with Salma Hayek, because life is just that easy.
How On Earth Could This Have Been A Better Movie?
I’m not an expert, but it starts with hiring someone who didn’t attend the Institute of Watching Other Movies and Just Writing What They Already Did. I don’t know if that falls on Kevin James or his co-writer and veteran screenwriter Alan Loeb, but someone should have had the balls and/or brains to say, “Hey, you know what? We could actually put some heart into this and not just retread the same lousy clichés that people roll their eyes into the back of their heads over and pray for death over,” but then I don’t think anyone gave a sh*t once this sucker made $73 million.
Final Grade: One dumb fat guy food joke.