Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping - Half of one of the best comedies of the year
American rapper RZA elegantly sums up the fleeting nature of fame during his cameo appearance in Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone's musical mockumentary.
“The higher you get, the harder you fall. Ask any coconut,” sermonizes the hip-hop superstar.
These words of wisdom are aimed at sweet, yet corruptible, Conner Friel (Andy Samberg), who sells out his childhood pals to land a solo record deal and secure his moment in the social media spotlight.
Part cautionary tale, part buddy comedy, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping gleefully lampoons music documentaries, including Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, by offering a fly-on-the-wall glimpse into the life of an icon as he prepares to launch his second album.
Schaffer and Taccone festoon their tongue-in-cheek expose with real-life music industry figures, plus colourful supporting performances including Justin Timberlake as a singing chef, who juliennes carrots with pride.
Thus Simon Cowell offers his glowing assessment of Conner - “I think he’s incredible. He’s the real deal!” - and the likes of Mariah Carey, Usher, Carrie Underwood and 50 Cent wax lyrical about his impact on their careers.
For the first 40 minutes, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is hysterical, but then like the preened and polished subject, the film loses its way.
Conner and childhood buddies Lawrence Dunn (Schaffer) and Owen Bouchard (Taccone) achieved considerable success as the trio The Style Boyz.
However, it was clear to everyone in the cutthroat music business that Conner was the glittering star in the firmament.
He went solo and The Style Boyz disbanded.
Lawrence turned his back on celebrity to settle on a farm in Big Timber, Colorado, while Owen remained in the background as Conner’s DJ.
Following the rousing success of Conner’s debut LP entitled Thriller, Also, a documentary film crew shadows the pop icon in the days leading up to the release of the follow-up album, ConnQuest.
Flanked by an entourage including his manager Harry Duggins (Tim Meadows), acid-tongued publicist Paula Klein (Sarah Silverman) and “a guy who kicks him in the nuts so he remembers where he came from”, Conner feebly shoulders the mounting pressure flanked by actress girlfriend, Ashley Wednesday (Imogen Poots).
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is half of one of the best comedies of the year.
Opening scenes are a hoot.
“It’s like a tricycle. When you take away one of the wheels, what have you got?” scoffs Lawrence when someone suggests The Style Boyz could fracture.
Note-perfect music videos include Equal Rights featuring P!nk, which promotes same sex relationships, while Conner punctuates each line of the chorus with a defiant, “I’m not gay”.
Sadly, the filmmakers run out of ideas for a lacklustre second half and introduce outlandish new characters to sustain our interest.