86 min. | R
Brought to you by the team behind Saturday Night Live’s viral hits “D–in a Box” and “Lazy Sunday,” this mockumentary film is every bit as crass, ridiculous and hilarious as you’d expect.
Andy Samberg stars as Conner4Real, a music superstar who shot to fame as part of the Style Boyz trio and then with his first solo album. However, his second album is a total disaster.
One Style Boyz band mate, Lawrence (Akiva Schaffer), refuses to speak with him, while the other (Jorma Taccone), has been relegated to the role of a background DJ. Conner’s manager (Tim Meadows), publicist (Sarah Silverman) and girlfriend (Imogen Poots) offer support, but you sense they realize how superficial his work and celebrity are.
It’s a mix of a Behind the Music special and This Is Spinal Tap absurdity, complete with controversy, rampant stupidity and back-stabbing. The music is trashy, catchy and fun. “Equal Rights” shows Conner worried about being perceived as gay while insisting there’s nothing wrong with it. “Mona Lisa” questions why the painting is famous by saying she “looks like a Garbage Pail Kid.” There’s a false modesty in “I’m So Humble,” a song Mariah Carey says she loves.
Speaking of Carey, we learn about Conner’s success from pop stars such as Nas, Carrie Underwood and Usher, and there are other cameos like Emma Stone and Justin Timberlake. Clearly the creators of the film—The Lonely Island trio of Samberg, Schaffer and Taccone—aren’t satirizing one person or band, but rather an entire industry of celebrity culture. It takes guts and intelligence to latch onto social trends, understand them and scathingly satirize for optimum comic value.
But they take it only so far. Teetering just below the flashy outfits, marijuana, bling, entourages and hangers-on is the utter stupidity of it all. The film never overtly criticizes; it’s reticent when it could be resonant with cultural commentary on why we consume all the trash celebrities provide. Doing this would’ve been tricky, as it would essentially slap audience members in the face for liking who they like.
This doesn’t mean the filmmakers don’t get their shots in, of course, sometimes in more obvious ways than others. A TMZ-inspired TV show called CMZ isn’t even trying to be coy about what it’s spoofing, and Conner’s desire to release his second album through household appliances suggests how intrusive technology has allowed the media to become whether we as consumers like it or not. “There’s no such thing as selling out anymore,” Conner says, and darn if your music automatically playing when people open their fridge doesn’t suggest that’s true. Do we really want to listen to a sellout? This movie might just get you thinking about the whether the celebrities you adore are worthy of adoration.