'Boom' lacks just that
Published: Monday, October 15, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 15, 2012 23:10
It’s hard to go into a movie completely unbiased. I went into “Here Comes the Boom” knowing it was produced by Adam Sandler, directed by the same man who made “Zookeeper,” and was written by the same man who wrote “Just Go With It.” I was expecting a disaster, and to my surprise… I kind of liked it.
“Here Comes the Boom” stars Kevin James as an uninterested and coercive, yet well meaning science teacher. After budget cuts at his school cost the job of the music teacher (Henry Winkler), he and James try to raise money. They do this by having James fight in mixed martial arts, with the help of a trainer (Bas Rutten) who James was helping to become a U.S. citizen. The plot on paper sounds like two unfinished screenplays merged together, but the two premises somehow come together fairly well, even if the structure is formulaic with plenty of cliché moments. Moreover, I was amazed at how well the film developed its characters. Each was given a personal conflict; almost nobody was a cardboard cutout, and the story had a surprising amount of substance.
The film’s main source of success is James, and now he’s not completely misused. James specializes in interpersonal and conversational humor, and has the ability to carry a joke an extra couple seconds. He does so here, and fairly well. He also does some physical comedy, and thankfully, little of it can be considered “fat man fall down” humor. Winkler is also a nice presence, and he shows here he doesn’t need to be “The Fonz” to create screen chemistry. Unfortunately, there are a few tasteless pieces of humor, such as a confused Mexican immigrant and James vomiting on one of his opponents. There are also more than a few comedic scenes which completely fall flat and are grating and overly prolonged. All in all, I did laugh (not a whole lot), but I was usually smiling.
I keep looking back over “Here Comes the Boom,” and I wonder what made it stand out as better than all the other corny underdog sports comedies I’ve seen, because this film is most definitely that. If I were to pin it on one aspect, I would say effort. The screenplay is solid, the writers clearly cared about the characters and they actually have some insight into money- stricken schools and people who are unsatisfied with their lives. True, what they do say is simple and one-dimensional, but at least it’s present. The direction is nice, the fights are choreographed well, and the film tries to be engaging. What I can’t get over is how most comedies with this premise are bright, light hearted and energetic, while “Here Comes the Boom” is dim, cloudy and even melancholy at times. It actually creates an atmosphere. That’s not even a requirement in a comedy.
As to whether or not I can recommend “Here Comes the Boom,” I’m on the cusp. Part of me feels I’m being too hard on it because it’s a film I shouldn’t like, but at the same time, I feel I’m being too easy on it because my expectations were so low. The movie does work on a lot of fronts, even if there are some glaring flaws. But I have gone into so many movies expecting greatness and walked out disappointed. Many fewer times have I walked into a movie expecting crap and have come out pleasantly surprised. I’m going to give “Here Comes the Boom” a solid stamp of approval. Maybe it doesn’t deserve it, but I don’t care; it feels right.