Title: Here Comes the Boom
Director: Frank Coraci
For about the first hour of Here Comes the Boom, you may find yourself pondering if having Adam Sandler in Kevin James’ role would be more entertaining. And that’s debatable if that is a compliment these days.
Yeah, this looks and reeks of a recycled Sandler bannered movie script (i.e. If Happy Gilmore was a UFC fighter). And you can thank the director, Frank Coraci (Zookeeper, Click, The Waterboy) and the trio of writers Rock Ruben (Zookeeper), Allan Loeb (Just Go with It) and the star himself, Kevin James for that. It’s as if Kevin James’ and company just wanted to emulate a late ‘90s Sandler flick in his respective writing. And while they have a cast of supporting characters who are hustling, along with James doing some of his best work in the final 30 minutes (which is to say different), the execution just isn’t as inspiring as the central story found within the 105 minutes.
But if you have never been subjected to a Sandler piece from the 20th century, here’s what you’re walking into:
Kevin James is lazy high-school biology teacher who has a crush on the school nurse (Salma Hayek) and has a friendship with the passionate music teacher, Henry Winkler. When the school budget gets snipped, Winkler is a victim of the penny-pinching tactics of the school board. The lethargic James actually becomes motivated and vows to find a way to earn enough money to save the music program at the school. His solution: Take his rustic skills during his high school wrestling years and apply them to present day cage fighting.
To do this, he enlists a student from the night school citizenship class he teaches (they beat this skit/bit to death by the way) in Bas Rutten. Rutten was a former mixed-martial arts fighter, who now teaches an assortment of swanky aerobic classes (spinning, yoga, etc.) at a fitness center, agrees to help James as long as the good teacher keeps up with teaching about the good ole U.S.A. Their plan isn’t so much about winning on the underground fight circuit; for they realized that the loser gets paid, too. So basically, as long as James is passable and can defend himself, he’s willing to risk a pummeling or two (or six) to earn some dough for his friend Winkler – who also becomes his unorthodox co-trainer.
If the filmmakers could have put in as much passion as Kevin James did to get himself in shape to perform in the later, better choreographed, bouts, then perhaps they could have done what last year’s Real Steel accomplished in stirring up an emotional response all the way through. Sure it’s light and cheap (physical comedy) material; but the telling of the story is predictable, bland, and edited together like wiping your ass with sandpaper (Translation: Not smooth).
What mildly maintains your interest, and occasionally enables one to let out a chuckle, are the quick-hitting performances of Bas Rutten and Henry Winkler. These guys are engaged and spot-on in the goofiness they’re supposed to provide. And some of the time, James provides a decent backboard for the two to play-off of. But when the “trimmed” down star isn’t in the cage getting twisted or pounded by fists, the dialogue and sequences with just him are so basic and regurgitated from the genre’s past, that you’ll get KO’ed by boredom.