‘Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping’ Deserves To Become A ‘Spinal Tap’-Like Cult Classic

Cultural Critic
09.09.16 11 Comments

This summer, I saw a lot of bad movies. Some of those bad movies made a ton of money, but most of them didn’t. I also saw a movie that I liked a lot: Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, an enjoyably silly and stealthily smart satire of the pop-music business written, directed, and starring the guys from The Lonely Island. If this is the first you’ve heard of this movie, you’re not alone: Popstar barely made any money at all in theaters.

On Tuesday, Popstar will be available on DVD and Blu-ray, and you can see it via VOD right now. By the way: You should see Popstar right now. And then you should buy Popstar so you can watch it many more times, because Popstar is awesome and deserves to live on as a cult classic.

Given how big of a drag the summer movie season was, Popstar‘s quick exit from theaters mystifies me. Why wasn’t this movie more successful? People seemed to love The Lonely Island when Andy Samberg was a cast member and Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer were writers on Saturday Night Live. The movie received a pretty good promotional push — the trailer was decent enough to convince me to see it on opening weekend. (Though I guess I was in the minority of filmgoers, given that Popstar made a paltry $4.7 million on opening weekend.) Even critics, including our own Vince Mancini, generally liked Popstar.

Most important, Popstar is a genuinely funny and good-natured movie that’s almost impossible to hate. The worst you can say about Popstar is that it’s an 86-minute Lonely Island sketch — or, more accurately, a series of sketches linked by the conceit of a mock-documentary. But unlike the bulk of 2016’s turgid, bludgeoning blockbusters, Popstar doesn’t take itself too seriously. Popstar knows what it is — a generator of fun, goofiness, occasional grossness, and loads and loads of jokes — and commits itself to having the best time possible. There should still be a place at the local cineplex for movies like Popstar, especially in summer, which used to be a time when raunchy, modestly budgeted comedies thrived.

Is it possible that Popstar bombed because pop music in 2016 transcends parody? After all, this is a year when a budding pop star faked an engagement to Jon Lovitz to promote her new single, an up-and-coming indie-pop group faked a sex tape to promote its new album, and the biggest pop star in the world maybe kinda sorta faked a relationship with a boring British man to distract the public from rumors that she cheated on her previous boyfriend, Calvin Harris.

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