Monday, February 4, 2013

Here Comes the Boom

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

  Here Comes the Boom – 3 out of 5

I don’t watch the UFC. It’s not that I have anything against the violence (do you read this blog and how I express my undying love of violent media) but I’m not really a sports guy—I barely have any understanding of them (however, I do know that homeruns are the scoring units in hockey—duh!) but my lack of any reaction or enthusiasm of the MMA events probably has to do with the fan base are the same guys who were shoving me into lockers in high school. It’s easy to say that the UFC is the domain of the douche bags but you don’t see many nerds or hippies rocking “Tapout” shirts.

I put a "Tapout" shirt on once...the shirt became sentient and kicked my nerdy ass.

Here Comes the Boom is the story about a down on its luck high school that is forced to cut the budget and eliminate the music program from school (basically that same problem you see in commercials about how without the arts, we'll all be boring assholes or something, I really don't pay attention to those commercials). Kevin James stars as Scott Voss an unenthusiastic science teacher who’s lost the lust for his job and, after realizing that losing the music program, he’ll lose his best friend, fellow teacher and head of the music department; Marty (Henry Winkler). In an effort to raise the money so his friend can keep his job and impress the school nurse played by Selma Hayek, Voss decides to start battling in the Octagon because he learned that even if you lose, you still get a decent payday. With the help of one of his students from his night job at a citizenship class (played by real-life MMA fighter Bas Rutten), Voss starts to learn the ways of fighting and his story inspires the UFC and UFC announcer Joe Rogan (played by Nicolas Cage—I’m kidding, Rogan played himself…but it would be awesome if Cage played him) invites the teacher to Las Vegas to be a part of a big fight that could effectively save Marty’s job.

Damn it would have been awesome if Nicolas Cage played him.

There was a time when I really enjoyed Kevin James. I found his stand-up to be incredibly amusing and I really enjoyed King of Queens when it was on-air. However, his transition to film has been shaky at best. He has yet to find the role that showed he has the talent I know he has (and allying himself with Adam Sandler was probably not the best move). I went into this film expecting something as hooky as Zookeeper or, even worse, as groan-inducing as Grown Ups was but, instead, I found a movie that was mildly amusing.

That big?  Really?  You expect me to buy that, Fonzie?

If only he fought as hard getting away from any movie
with Adam Sandler in it.
The film is never outright hilarious but it’s never annoying either. Occasionally the movie made me chuckle but it was never painful to watch. Even the story (and the appeal to the douche bags it offers aside) is actually heartwarming and has all the makings of the Hollywood clich├ęs of the underdog trying to make it in a world he’s not big enough for (the Rocky syndrome). You knew his character was going to win in the end but when he delivers the final knockout punch and does it for his friend and fellow teacher you still can’t help but be filled with a sense of wonder and awe even though this style of sports film story has been seen over and over again. Also it’s got MMA fighting and the dumbest looking punch to ever exist that now fills every bad action film you can think of; the Superman punch, so that automatically gets the guys who chug Monster, have truck nuts on their pickup and own 50 different styles of “Tapout” shirts excited. There were also some real UFC fighters in there but I don’t feel like listing them and you have freaking Google. Not to mention the types you really care which fighters are in the film are not busy using Google to find out who was in it but rather using Google to find out where I am because I called them “douche bags.”

And this is what they shall be doing to me later...the dumbest punch ever.
Oh, it's still going to destroy my face but it's still a stupid punch.

He's got crazy in his eyes...Rutten is about to have an MMA
One of the things I found the most enjoyable about the film was the performance of Bas Rutten as the trainer Niko. I tried not to let my biases about the fan base of MMA fighting jade my judgment but I totally admit that going into the film, I half-expected Rutten to come off as a bumbling moron with no emotion, inflecting the wrong words in a sentence and just come off as an overwhelming awkward man giving a painfully awkward performance that would be expected from a man who made a name for himself kicking half-naked dudes in the face. Surprisingly, Rutten was really good and someone who gave me the most chuckles from the film. While his performance still wasn’t stellar caliber, he was still extremely enjoyable in the film and took the trainer character to a different level. He wasn’t the gruff, wise-cracking jerk out to make a fighter out of a ton of mush but was a friend out to make a sort-of fighter out of a teacher.

Here Bas Rutten is doing his best Robert De Niro.

The jacket says "I can cook" but the smile says "I spit
in your food."
Like I said, Here Comes the Boom isn’t spectacular but it wasn’t terrible either. It’s your run-of-the-mill underdog sports film (the use of underdog is a tad superfluous since there’s never a sports film about a team/player that dominates from beginning to end because that would be boring and would keep the audience emotionally detached) and it half-asses a romantic subplot with James’ character and Hayek’s character that feels tacked on and makes James’ character look more like a douche (or typical “Tapout” shirt wearer) when wooing the school nurse and it easily could have been eliminated with no harm to the film. However, it’s made up for it by the presence of Gary Valentine (also from King of Queens) playing Voss’ brother and he has some amusing sequences that makes you forget about the awkward, really-doesn’t-need-to-be-there romance.
But this movie is heavy on the sex appeal...the sweaty, man-boobed sex appeal.

James takes a beating better than I can...I wet myself when
someone just balls a fist in front of me.
The film isn’t the freshest and it isn’t the funniest but the reality is it could have been 10x worse. The movie could have been just a bad collection of skits of James falling down while fighting in the Octagon and a slew of fat jokes but the movie offered up some heart and James comes off less like a cartoon character like he has in previous films and more of an honorable man trying to do what’s best for his school and his friend. When the credits rolled, I found I enjoyed the film and it really wasn’t that bad. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get some distance behind me as I’m sure UFC fans are gunning for my blood for the name calling I did throughout this review.

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