GENRE: MMA-fueled comedy
THE PITCH: Man child, high school biology teacher Scott Voss (Kevin James) rediscovers his love for teaching when he takes up the cause to save his docile friend, music teacher Marty Streb's (Henry Winkler) job. After realizing his low-paying night gigs won't cut it, he deduces he can literally fight to save the program by engaging in mixed martial arts matches. Think Rocky meets Bad Teacher.
MONEY SHOT: Definitely the final octagon battle between Voss and up-and-coming MMA fighter Ken Dietrich (Krzysztof Soszynski). This is three rounds of intense, full-body ultimate fighting. Underdog Voss gets a heavy dose of how the big boys engage in this brutal sport.
SCHOOL BUST: After a battered and bruised Voss is patched up by school nurse and crush Bella Flores (Salma Hayek), Voss explains how his passion for teaching waned over time, reflecting the frustration with today's education system by saying, "... I don't know how we got so far off track."
SOUR NOTES: According to an NEA fast survey, during the 2009-2010 school year, 91 percent of public secondary schools still provide music programs and the numbers decrease to 81 percent in secondary schools with high poverty levels. In elementary schools only 15 percent of "credible" music instruction is provided to institutions with high poverty levels.
PRODUCT PLACEMENT: While Voss didn't have corporate backing, his challenger sure did. During the final bout, the octagon is plastered with current UFC sponsors: TapOut, Bud Light, and Monster (the energy drink, not the speakers) and more. Still, Voss enjoyed sipping coffee from Dunkin Donuts between fights. All of his fights are available on YouTube.
FACE RECOGNITION: It won't be hard to spot MMA fans in the audience since they'll be pointing out familiar faces within the sport. Be on the lookout for Bas Rutten, Jacob Duran, Mark DellaGrotte, Joe Rogan, Mike Goldberg, Herb Dean and Soszynski.
BY THE NUMBERS: Total number of octagon fights 9, total number of non-match bouts, 1.
AUSTERE FONZARELLI: With the music program already stripped of resources and now on the chopping block, the mild-mannered music instructor Streb sheds his meek demeanor at a meeting, standing and flatly quotes Friedrich Nietzsche to the attendees saying, "Without music, life would be a mistake!"
BOTTOM LINE: I've always considered Kevin James as a unique blend of Lou Costello and Jackie Gleason. He's that pudgy, loveable dolt that delivers consistent physical comedy and that baby face quality that often sells his slurry of pot shots and zingers. He's parlayed that talent through a career of mediocre (yet somehow money making) films over the years. But with Boom, he finally delivers a product worthy of actually watching. Shedding the "Loveable dough boy that just wants to get laid" motif for once, James takes his longings to another level - fighting for someone and something larger than his on screen libido. The result is still full of the warm and fuzzy he's best known for, but the immature antics have a purpose that fit the desperate circumstance he fumbles into - saving the school music program and his friend's job. The subtext illustrating challenges teachers face in today's schools take center stage as scene after scene examine the difficulties, issues and sentiment today's parents, teachers and administrators with the system. Even with the "Save music in our public schools" bludgeoned into our skulls about as much as our hero gets his ass kicked, the film still feels rather light and genuinely funny. Winkler's as the naive, inspired teacher shows off his impeccable comedic timing, offering a perfect counterbalance to James. Hayek and former MMA fighter-turned-actor Bas Rutten round out the principal cast providing that essential straight man setup for James' constant antics.
Here Comes the Boom is James at his surprising best. This well written and action-fueled comedy cleverly makes a poignant statement while delivering action, heart, and humor.
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