Here Comes the Boom (2012)

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Chances are that for many of us, the prospect of a Kevin James star vehicle produced by Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Production Company isn’t exactly going to set our pulses racing. After all, it really is saying something when Paul Blart: Mall Cop is the highlight on your cinematic CV. Here Comes The Boom however is by no means anything to fear and on the broad spectrum of modern day American comedies, it sits pretty solidly in the ‘just slightly below average’ category.

James is likeable in the lead role, the problem being that he is also charming and inspirational and heroic and brave and tough and………..basically, he’s the greatest human being alive. Jones plays Scott Voss, a former collegiate wrestler turned biology teacher who over the course of this film not only becomes a better person, but also saves the day, inspires the younger generation and woos the inexplicably hot nurse (Salma Hayek). It’s like a selection pack of movie clichés all rolled into one choice nugget. At the film’s outset, Voss is a jaded and seemingly out-of-shape teacher who shows no enthusiasm whatsoever for his work.  That all changes however when his friend and school music teacher Marty (Henry Winkler) is told his job is in jeopardy mere moments after he has confided in Voss that he and his wide are expecting a baby. Voss resolves to raise the $48,000 necessary to save his job and protect the music department from savage cuts.

After being introduced to Mixed Martial Arts fighting by a friend, Voss finds out there’s money to be made in losing cage fights and thus sets about earning cash by getting pummelled. He gradually begins to get better and better however and after a series of good fights, he is cherry-picked by the big guns at UFC to fight one of their main attractions. I’m not entirely convinced it’s as easy to get a gig in the UFC as this film suggests, but we’ll let that slide for now. This fight is the big pay day which can fully save Marty’s job, but can Voss overcome the odds and defeat the rock solid highly-trained fighter? I think we all know the answer to that.

There’s a number of pressing faults with this movie, perhaps the most important one being that it elevates Scott Voss to almost mythical levels of brilliance. I’m not saying a movie can’t have a hero at the centre, but if you are going to have one completely without faults and who saves the day essentially single-handedly, you’re really dialling the cheese factor all the way up to 11. I think I’ve drilled this point home enough now though so we’ll move on to fault number two, which is that this movie packs in far too many sub-plots for its own good. Thrown into the narrative melting plot we have a class of immigrants trying to become American citizens, a talented student whose father doesn’t want her perusing a music career, the importance of music in society, a surprise pregnancy and an unhappy marriage. When added in on top of the cage-fighting and the Salma Hayek wooing at the film’s centre, it adds up to a bit of a jumbled mess. The film’s focus seems to be extremely scattershot and there appears to be a fair bit of narrative padding involved in order to flesh out the fairly short and sweet ‘teacher fights for his students’ concept.

There are a couple of broader themes also hinted at by Here Comes the Boom, namely the stinging impact of the failing economy and the importance that must be placed on educating our children, but these too are skipped over fairly readily. They are briefly mentioned and then, much like the mass of subplots, they are pushed into the background in order to make room for another few minutes of Kevin James getting beaten up.

For all its faults though, Here Comes the Boom has the best of intentions. Saving jobs and educating the young is always a good thing, and the teacher going that extra yard is a well-worn TV staple which translates fairly well to the big screen providing you can handle the cheese. It’s formulaic, overly schmaltzy to the point of distraction and not really sufficiently funny given its billing as a comedy, but it’s inoffensive and mildly entertaining enough to avoid too much castigation. To put it another way, despite an abundance of plot threads, there’s so little about Here Comes the Boom that its kind of hard to object to it too strongly.

Here Comes the Boom is out on DVD and Blu-ray 18th March 2013.

Director: Frank Coraci
Stars: Kevin James, Salma Hayek, Henry Winkler
Runtime: 105 min
Country: USA

Film Rating: ★★½☆☆

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