With Adam Sandler in your corner anyone can be a star. That’s been Kevin James’ strategy his whole career. His role in film can be considered the behind-the-scenes work of Adam Sandler, who loves casting his friends in his Happy Madison Productions.
The difference in Here Comes The Boom, is that it’s a movie that James co-wrote and one of the few Sandler productions that seems to be going for a more serious and darker vibe.
Oh, don’t worry lovers of comedy, for there are still a few laugh to be had with this one. The story just seems to translate to a more dramatic tone on the screen, but I think that works to its advantage.
At its core, this is a classic David vs. Goliath story. A slacker teacher, named Mr. Vos (James) is forced to get into the ring with UFC/MMA fighters just so he can raise the money his school needs to keep the music program from being cut and his good friend (Henry Winkler) can keep his job. It’s a simple story, but one with a lot of heart. Happy Madison movies usually give off a mean-spirited tone from the get go and then get to the sentimental parts later. This one is different by giving us the sentiment and hope we have for our hero right from the beginning. This is without a doubt the best we’ve seen Kevin James in any movie thus far. To most that might not be saying much, but it should be noted that James gives a standard performance here.
What really impressed me about this movie was how great the fight scenes looked. They filmed them so well and so steady that it was clear what was happening and who was whom. Since fighting in the ring is the major selling point of this movie, I’m pleased to report that it is fun watch and surprisingly well done - which it should to be since actual fighters, like Joe Rogan, have roles in this movie. Not bad from the director of Zookeeper. These fight scenes were so thrilling to watch that it sucked me into the world of UFC and gave me a new perspective of the sport.
The “hero’s journey” that James’ character follows is pretty realistic, too, and should be noted. He doesn’t just get in the ring for the first time and all of the sudden has super-human strength and the ability to beat his opponent because of what he is fighting for. He gets hurt, a lot, and loses too. But, he works his way up and up with realistic training methods and in a time span that actually makes sense.
I know I’ve almost made this film out to be a tear jerking drama at this point but it is still technically a comedy. It just doesn’t hit the funny bone as hard as you would think, neither for kids or adults.
Yes, I laughed, but too far and in between for me to call this a laugh out loud comedy. I couldn’t tell if they were trying to be funny and the jokes didn’t hit, or if they really didn’t pack many funny moments in the script to begin with. All I know is, it had funny moments, gags and lines for sure, but people expecting the average slapstick Kevin James film might be a bit disappointed.
The pacing is pretty consistent throughout. I was never actually bored while watching it or wanted it to be over. I was pretty much engrossed throughout, with one little exception. The third act went into pretty cheesy territory and felt a little to much like last year’s Real Steel. I did appreciate the amount of heart put into it, but it was pretty off balance to me between all the “stand up and cheer” moments and when I rolled my eyes in disbelief. Cue the inspirational music and the down on his luck hero can achieve is goal, despite the odds. Honestly though, what else can you expect for a rated R family film staring Kevin James? The cliches should be expected.
A likable lead performance from Kevin James, a likable supporting cast and some really entertaining fight scenes make this movie a real surprise. The word surprise doesn’t always mean great though. This is by no means a wonderful piece of cinema that will be talked about for years to comes, or even the next couple hours after seeing it.
What it will do is put a smile on your face for a good couple hours and surprise you with how terrible it’s not.