The mistake too many movies like Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping make is to believe in themselves too much and forget that they’re about quick and cheap laughs (no matter how well constructed the laughs are), a mistake Popstar mostly avoids. There’s a good ratio of belly laughs to flat moments where it gets schmaltzy and starts actually being about the plot.
The former comes in moments like the asides from celebrity news site CMZ (a rip-off of TMZ), where the staff and editor (Will Forte) all stand around talking about the news, laughing like idiots and drinking endlessly out of sippee cups. The latter comes when the hero, Connor4Real (Andy Samberg) reconnects with his former bandmates after letting fame go to his head too much and buying into his own myth.
It’s a meta-satire on modern music fame with Justin Bieber and his contemporaries as the inspiration, the movie tracking the life and times of Connor during the release of his new album.
One of a former trio, his bandmate Owen (co-writer and co-director Jorma Taccone) has been relegated to the band DJ, doing nothing during shows but wearing a ridiculous light-show helmet and turning on an iPod, and Lawrence (co-writer and co-director Akiva Shakkner) has gone bush to be a farmer in the country, turning his back on the music business but in reality still hating Connor for dumping him.
The story follows the pre-release hype of the new album (which bombs) and the increasingly desperate antics of Connor, his manager Harry (Tim Meadows) and his publicist Paula (Sarah Silverman) to put him back on top.
There’s his televised proposal to vacuous actress girlfriend Ashley (Imogen Poots) that results in singer Seal getting mauled to death by a wolf, the sponsorship deal with an appliance manufacturer that sees Connor’s album come blasting out of dishwashers around the country, and the partnership with a hip hop artist that threatens to overshadow everything.
There are a lot of pop music cameos (not Bieber himself, surprisingly), but aside from a third quarter dip the laugh quotient stays high and the movie doesn’t forget it’s reason for being is to be ridiculous, the same way the music business is.