Prior to release I was just another face in the crowd rolling my eyes at Kevin James in another movie with a lot of the same people in Adam Sandler’s camp of comedians tossing out another lackluster comedy. Even as the opening credits came across the screen and the first shot of the film is Kevin James laying awkwardly in bed, mouth wide open and snoring and late for work I sat there dreading what I was in for. By the end, as ridiculous and predictable as HERE COMES THE BOOM is I was also in complete shock at how funny, charming and utterly enjoyable the movie is.
James stars as a high school teacher, Scott Voss, who at one point and time really loved his job, but somewhere down the line he, along with the majority of teachers in his school, just stopped caring about the quality of education they gave their students. When a fellow teacher/friend, Marty (Henry Winkler), is faces with losing his job as the band teacher due to budget cuts, Scott decides to try and help raise the money the school needs to avoid the cuts. While teaching a citizenship class to make extra money a student, Niko (Bas Rutten), turns him on to the money he could make as a UFC fighter and enlists his help to train so he can start making the big bucks to save his friend.
Over the past few years I’ve been begrudgingly defending James’ presence in the recent slew of Happy Madison films that don’t allow him to do the kind of things that I enjoy about him. As an actor his style is very crowd friendly which is no wonder why he’s been stuck in extremely mediocre titles like ZOOKEEPER and PAUL BLART: MALL COP. Really though James has yet to shine in any of his roles, until HERE COMES THE BOOM. Don’t get to giddy though, because this isn’t high art, it’s just that his performance for the type of film this is, comes much funnier than in previous films and at times is quite heartfelt. Along with James though there are also very enjoyable performances from Henry Winkler and Bas Rutten.
The director, Frank Coraci, is also stuck in a Sandler trance and coming off of ZOOKEEPER keeps things moving at a decent pace, but also staging quite a few goofy slapstick moments of humor, but never to the point of parody. For the most part the film is actually a pretty great look at the world of UFC, but in a more accessible approach rather than anything too hardcore for the family oriented audience.
Surprisingly enough I really thought the writing was stronger than I expected it to be. Granted, this is all pretty cut and dry- designed to tug at the heartstrings in a pretty translucent fashion. However, the jokes pull no punches and are easily approachable for all ages. The other real surprise for me, despite how predictable the events of the film are how moving and sweet the film is leading up to the finale considering the finale entails two sweaty dudes beating each other bloody in front of thousands of people. The end is not shocking and it’s not quite dramatic enough to satisfy more discerning audiences, but it is a better than it had any right to be crowd pleasing experience.
Not without its goofy aspects that don’t irrevocably harm the experience but at least deserve to be pointed out to curve expectations. The film is extremely ridiculous- I’m talking ridiculous to the extremes that if you found the set ups in WARRIOR farfetched then HERE COMES THE BOOM will make your eyes roll out of your head. Granted this is not WARRIOR, they both deal with MMA fighting and an underdog overcoming extreme odds to fight for glory and one is deadly serious and dramatic while the other is at its heart a comedy. In context of the film steps are taken so that watching James be able to beat some of the people he beats in the cage isn’t totally unbelievable, but the further towards the end the film gets the more you really have to swallow logic in order to enjoy much of the last half of the film- if you can do that, then you should have no issues enjoying this film.
I made a joke prior to the film about how I would like to see a crossover film that combines WARRIOR with HERE COMES THE BOOM just so I could see Tom Hardy beat down Kevin James- I didn’t say it was a good joke. I made the statement, due to my expectations of me not liking this film and now that I’ve come out in favor of it I just want to say that I still want to see that crossover film- except I want Hardy to be wearing the Bane mask. HERE COMES THE BOOM overcomes its goofy predictable side to be surprisingly charming, sweet, funny and to a certain extent exciting because by the end even I was on the verge of standing and cheering.
Written By: Luke (@CrummyLuke on Twitter)