It might seem strange now, but in the mid-2000's, Saturday Night Live was struggling to find its feet among younger viewers, especially as the Internet, YouTube specifically, was beginning to overtake television as the go-to source for fresh and innovative comedy. Videos couldn't go viral from sketch comedy anymore, they were coming from the web.
Enter The Lonely Island's digital shorts.
The short, sharable, and usually musical sketches, always pre-recorded, never live, gave the show the kick in the pants it needed to become relevant to a new generation. And after the show, they were instantly uploaded to YouTube. Smart move. For eleven years now, The Lonely Island have been gracing YouTube and Saturday Night Live with their musical comedy skits. Some went viral (Jack Sparrow, The Shooting, I’m On A Boat, Natalie’s Rap), some went unnoticed, but they all had something in common, they were all very funny. The Lonely Island revolutionized SNL when it needed it most.
Former SNL cast member Andy Samberg leads The Lonely Island while his buddies, former SNL writers Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, play his entourage in the form of fictional 90's rap icons, The Styleboyz.
Now, they've taken their musical parody shtick to the big screen as Popstar: Never Stop Stopping, an obvious riff on Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, opened in theaters earlier this month. The mockumentary style allows for fictional popstar Connor4Real to engage in goofy antics like a pool-party funeral for a dead turtle, accidentally killing Seal via wolf attack, and arguing with the queen diva herself, Mariah Carey. There are lots of fitting celebrity cameos in Popstar and they work well to make Connor4Real seem like a popstar who could really exist among his famous peers. The movie chronicles Connor's rise, fall, and inevitable rebirth as a music legend.
The music is really what makes or breaks a movie like Popstar, and on one hand, it's as catchy and funny as ever. On the other hand, there's definitely a sense of been there, done that about the entire soundtrack, even though each song in the movie was especially made for it. It would have been nice to see some more risks taken for the soundtrack. Still, the humor is there, and the jokes aren't stale yet; Popstar wears its greatest hits like they're brand new.
Popstar: Never Stop Stopping is in theaters now.