No Knockout, Here Comes the Boom Wins on Points
- Friday, October 12, 2012
DVD Release Date: February 5, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: October 12, 2012
Rating: PG (for brief mild language, comic violence)
Run Time: 105 min
Director: Frank Coraci
Cast: Kevin James, Salma Hayek, Henry Winkler, Greg Germann, Bas Rutten
Kevin James (Hotel Transylvania) has built a successful film career primarily playing the sidekick in adult-skewing PG-13 comedies to the likes of Adam Sandler, Will Smith and Vince Vaughn. His short-but-growing list of starring vehicles, however, stands out from the contemporary movie landscape in a rather striking way: they’re live-action family-friendly movies that are surprisingly pretty fun.
To the extent that Paul Blart: Mall Cop and Zookeeper are actually "funny" is certainly relative and intermittent, but even when jokes fall flat and gags are dumbed-down, the spirit and charm of a Kevin James performance has a way of making the time go by easy with a smile on your face. Here Comes the Boom continues that trend.
James plays Scott Voss, a high school biology teacher who has lost his passion for teaching. He admires beloved band teacher Marty Streb (Henry Winkler, Click) for his ability and desire to connect with students, but for Voss the motivation is gone.
That changes when the school is forced to make deep budget cuts into the tens of thousands. All extra-curricular activities will be axed at the end of the school year, including the entire music department – and Streb’s job along with it. Voss vows to raise the funds to make up the difference, and is willing to fight for it. Literally. As in the world of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) cage fighting.
With thousands of dollars to be earned even when losing a match, Voss decides to take his experience as a wrestler into the MMA ring and lose/survive his way toward eliminating the school’s deficit. The journey follows a basic formula of training, montages, gritty early fight failures, successes as he goes up the circuit’s ladder, and so on. Not only is James’ body amped up (less doughy, more solid) but so too is his usual “Fat Guy Fall Down” brand. These fights have been seriously choreographed, staged to both athletic and comedic effect.
This mix of comedy and action includes its requisite dose of romance, too, in the form of Salma Hayek (Savages) as school nurse Bella Flores. Along with everyone else, she has her doubts about Voss and isn’t keen to his lame pick-up attempts. Needless to say, she is eventually won over just as we are and ends up in his corner. As perfunctory and occasionally sappy as it all is, at least the familiar story is driven by Voss’s personal growth as he decides to stop being a part of the problem and become a part of the solution.
Not that his character arc is necessarily deep, mind you. It follows predictable narrative beats just as the overall story does, and often too quickly. Choices and changes are made without a whole lot of soul-searching but rather, more easily, with plot-timing. The inspirational moments still land (in particular with the subplot of a female Asian student) but only in the moment. Things exist and occur by design rather than any unique creative expression. Nothing resonates or proves memorable.
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