I’m reminded of Adam Sandler’s heyday with his films Billy Madison (1995), Big Daddy (1999), Happy Gilmore (1996) and The Wedding Singer (1998). Personally speaking I don’t know if James’ will encroach on that level of solid comedy, or maybe that’s my own bias, but “Here Comes the Boom” introduced some similar subtleties like when Sandler casts his friends into minor roles. It was always funny to try to pick them out on-screen and there was an inherent natural chemistry about them on-screen which made it more “genuine”. I almost want to say this film is a labor of love from Kevin James but I can’t help but get that notion he’s comfortably in a place where he’s actively pursuing films based on personal interests. In some ways, the ad-lib doesn’t feel forced (*cough* Vince Vaughn *cough*) and it just happens.
What I’m getting at is that “Here Comes the Boom” gave me the notion that James is at his best when he’s surrounded by friends. There isn’t a “battle” to see who’s funnier or outdo one another, the comedy just happens. Things aren’t complicated, they’re simple. I can almost imagine James sitting down one evening with Bas Rutten and they’re watching the movie, Warrior (2011) starring Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton and James saying “I’d love to make this exact movie, except… a comedy!” I’m not saying that Here Comes the Boom is exactly like Warrior, but it is very similar which is only exasperated when you see Joel Edgerton in a brief cameo (unless my eyes deceived me).
James also has a personal penchant for mixed martial arts as he trains with his good friend Bas Rutten who is a retired mixed martial artist. Salma Hayek has the ‘Grown Ups (2010)’ connection to James and is a required female casting, and in addition to her we have Henry Winkler who really is no stranger and I found his role in this film was exactly… appropriate. In some ways it was solid character writing and Winkler never extended his reach to go beyond what role he should play. All in all with this casting and these minor connections I don’t think this film came together by coincidence. And at the end of the day it’s all of these little things that balance the film and make Here Comes the Boom enjoyable. It’s still not an upper tier comedy, but it is funny and very serviceable. Perhaps a matinee or maybe a Netflix rental, if that’s ultimately your preference. If I were to give this film a proper “review” I’d give it a solid 6 out of 10, but if that type of score is enough to dissuade you from ever watching this movie than heed my words: Don’t let it.
There are some pacing issues and borderline “poor” edits that makes you think there are more segments that were scrapped from the film, but I think there was more a conscious decision to keep the film going and not bogged down the over saturation of predictable “serious” moments. The film does have a typical predictability but that isn’t an inherently bad thing, and in some ways it’s completely unrealistic. But it’s going to happen so you just sit back, watch and enjoy. I think with the way the film is structured, and how it’s structured, is crafted to have a simple message that it wants to convey and that is to just give a damn about things in your life. Kevin James’ Mr.Voss is a teacher and is relatable. His job has gotten to a point where time and results have made him jaded and while he doesn’t inherently care or portray that he cares, in truth he does. I always figure at some point we’ll all find ourselves at a crossroad, (and this can happen more than once), but when you get there it’s a just matter of figuring out if you care to change or just do nothing. I’m not trying to romantically metaphor this film as there really isn’t a need to but “Here Comes the Boom” doesn’t make light of this situation, it happens to teach the lesson through an obscure manner. “A school needs to cut all extracurricular activities” which includes the music program taught by Winkler’s character Marty. And now, on the verge of being fired, James’ character Mr. Voss goes up to bat for Marty to try to find a way to save his job and the school and in this case to make extra money by taking on mixed martial arts. The rest unfolds with hilarity ensuing.
Speaking more on the characters, the biggest surprise for me was Bas Rutten. He was exceptionally charismatic on-screen and after reading through his history with mixed martial arts and him as a person I think, it was a really great fit. As previously mentioned there was a good balance to “Here Comes the Boom” Right down to Hayek’s involvement as Bella Flores, the school nurse. Until the absolutely bizarre animalistic date scene where she jumps James’ bones, it just felt off and unnatural comedic wise. Winkler’s character is an aside, but by that I mean he’s comedic relief in a quiet but passionate sort of way. Due to the mixed martial arts tie-in, you have the usual connections like that of Joe Rogan, Herb Dean and Mike Goldberg. I swear any associated official mixed martial arts promotion/company has to be eating up these types of films being made.
The one anomaly for the film however, although yes it made sense due to the film’s storyline was Charice. She played a student in James’ class, but more importantly was a part of the music program of the school and I’m instantly reminded of when Justin Timberlake initially made the jump to the big screen. There is the “want to become an actor” and then there is shoehorning yourself into a role which utilizes your already known talents. I’m not a fan of the latter, so, since Timberlake made his move to the big screen somewhat well I feel that it’s still an on-going project. I didn’t mind Charice’s casting but it felt more like a shill. She’s in the film to sing and I just personally didn’t care for those moments. Maybe it’s my own cynicism but it doesn’t lace well when a film is already predictable and adds even more blatantly predictable moments. You just don’t want to see it happen.
In any event, Here Comes the Boom is fun so if you find yourself in an opportunity to watch it, do it. It’s actually Kevin James’ best comedy to date. Although, I don’t know if that is saying much but it should.