If you’ve ever wondered what This is Spinal Tap would look like if it were set in today’s age of social media, viral video celebrity and Justin Bieber, you will find it in this movie.

Popstar is the brainchild of The Lonely Island, the trio consisting of Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Shaffer that became famous producing digital shorts for SNL while Samberg was a cast member. The plot is a rags to riches tale of friendship, stardom and douchebagerry, pretty much in that order.

Conner Friel (Samberg) and his two childhood friends Owen and Lawrence (Taccone and 4 starsShaffer) find fame and success as teenagers with the boy band The Style Boyz. However, Conner clearly considers himself the breakout star, and we learn the reason for their eventual breakup is his refusal to share songwriting credit on a song largely written by Lawrence. The fact that song is completely vapid, idiotic modern pop makes the disagreement funny on several levels. Who would want credit for writing such drivel? And yes, this is the sort of thing that passes for great pop music today.

Conner changes his name to Conner4Real and becomes a ridiculously rich and successful global popstar. There are tons of cameos from many successful musicians, all singing the praises and brilliant influence of Conner4Real and The Style Boyz. Some of these celebrities are legendary musicians, some are the sort of stars this movie is parodying so well, and there are a few that may be both at the same time.

As brilliant as the movie is parodying the music component of being a popstar, it’s even funnier showing what that level of global fame and celebrity does to a person’s lifestyle. There is scene after hilarious scene of Conner and his posse of sycophants doing things that are outrageous while simultaneously being believable behaviour for a star like that.

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is excellent satire and solid entertainment. It’s hard to understand why the movie was not more successful at the box office, where it failed to earn back half its budget during its theatrical run. One possibility is that people young enough to actually follow the Biebers of the pop music world wouldn’t get the satire, and people old enough to get the satire don’t really care about modern pop music. But the comparisons to This is Spinal Tap, Rob Reiner’s classic 1983 mockumentary, are deserved. I have a feeling Popstar is a movie that will be appreciated more in years to come, when the ridiculousness of some of the subjects the movie is satirizing will be more apparent.

Title Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
Director Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone
Runtime 87 min
Starring Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone
Writer Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone
Production Universal
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