Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is a 2016 American mockumentary comedy film directed by Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone and written, produced by and starring Andy Samberg, Schaffer, and Taccone. Also produced by Judd Apatow, it co-stars Sarah Silverman, Tim Meadows, Imogen Poots, Joan Cusack, and Maya Rudolph.
|Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping|
Theatrical release poster
|Music by||Matthew Compton|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$9.6 million|
The film was released on June 3, 2016 by Universal Pictures and grossed $9 million, failing to meet its budget of $20 million, despite positive reviews from critics.
Told in the form of a musical documentary, Conner Friel is a musical prodigy at an early age, and he forms a rap/pop group dubbed "The Style Boyz", with his childhood friends Lawrence Dunn and Owen Bouchard. They almost instantly gain fame in the music industry, inspiring many of today's musicians. However, after failing to receive credit for writing Conner's guest verse on the Poppy-winning single "Turn Up the Beef", Lawrence leaves.
After the Style Boyz disband, Conner becomes a solo act, taking on the name "Conner4Real", with Owen as his DJ. Lawrence begins farming in Colorado after a failed attempt at going solo. Conner's debut album Thriller, Also rockets to the top of the charts and his fame increases. In 2015, Conner releases his sophomore album Connquest, which receives terrible reviews due to him using hundreds of different producers rather than Owen's original beats. With sales surprisingly low, Conner's manager Harry suggests having Aquaspin, a manufacturer that makes home appliances, sponsor the tour. The company's appliances begin playing Conner's songs when in use, causing a nationwide power outage that generates a wave of backlash among Conner's fans.
Conner begins his album tour, but the shows do not sell as well as he had hoped. Harry suggests they hire hip-hop artist Hunter the Hungry as an opening act, and the ticket sales begin to rise. Conner starts to add new gimmicks to his act, including a robotic mask for Owen, publicizing his relationship with actress Ashley Wednesday, and a stage trick where he changes costumes in seconds behind a curtain. The trick only works as a result of Conner having to hide his penis behind his legs, but the trick is seemingly botched in Nashville, when Conner becomes naked (without his penis visible) mid-concert, thus becoming the subject of mockery.
Conner's publicist, Paula Klein, suggests he pull another publicity stunt to deflect attention from his humiliation. Conner decides to propose to Ashley on live TV, with a display including a number of trained wolves and a performance by Seal. Seal's vocals agitate the wolves and they break loose, mauling Seal and the attendees. The backlash against Conner grows, and Ashley breaks up with him and starts dating Seal, who sues Conner for his injuries.
Owen, worried about the declining quality of his friend's music, sets up a meeting between himself, Conner, and Lawrence. The reunion ends poorly when Conner refuses to acknowledge that Lawrence wrote the track that launched his career. Despite Conner's poor reputation, The Tonight Show agrees to book him on an episode. Jimmy Fallon suddenly invites Conner to perform the Style Boyz' hit song "Donkey Roll" along with Owen, which is received well by the crowd despite Conner's reluctance.
As the tour progresses, Hunter begins to overshadow Conner, selling more records than him and dragging out his act before Conner's show. At a concert, Hunter announces that he will perform as long as possible, causing Conner to rush to the stage. A brawl ensues when Hunter quietly admits that he orchestrated Conner's wardrobe malfunction. Conner demands that Harry let Hunter go and fires Harry after finding out that he has signed Hunter. Connquest is later knocked off the charts and Aquaspin decides to pull their sponsorship. The remainder of the tour is cancelled, and Owen decides to leave the team when Conner questions his loyalty. After his beloved pet turtle Maximus dies, Conner sinks into a depression and moves back into his mother's house. He begins drinking heavily and starts selling crude horse drawings online.
Paula forces Conner to leave the house and takes him to a club featuring Owen. Owen's music and production are strong, though his singing is subpar. Conner and Owen reconcile and decide to finally make amends with Lawrence. Conner gives Lawrence his Poppy and apologizes, acknowledging Lawrence's contribution to his music. Conner and Owen discover that Lawrence owns a giant marijuana farm and a music studio in his farmhouse. As the three get high and collaborate in Lawrence's studio, Conner receives news from Paula that a six-minute slot has opened for Conner to perform at the Poppy Music Awards as a result of Taylor Swift being arrested for murder, and with encouragement from his friends, he decides to reunite The Style Boyz.
At the Poppys, Hunter humiliates himself after arguing with Mariah Carey on stage and Harry quits as Hunter's manager after being insulted by him. Conner reconciles with Harry and later finds out that the six-minute slot has been shortened to three minutes, forcing him to perform either a Conner4Real song or a Style Boyz song. Conner decides to perform The Style Boyz's new song "Incredible Thoughts" featuring Michael Bolton. The film ends with Conner reflecting on the lessons he has learned and the value of holding onto relationships after reaching stardom, and introduces a new baby turtle named Maximus II.
- Andy Samberg as Conner "Kid Conner" Friel / Conner4Real
- Evan Fine as ten-year-old Conner
- Jorma Taccone as Owen "Kid Contact" Bouchard, Conner's former bandmate and current DJ
- Maxwell Jenkins as ten-year-old Owen
- Akiva Schaffer as Lawrence "Kid Brain" Dunn, Conner's former bandmate and songwriter who became a farmer following the breakup
- Elliott Smith as ten-year-old Lawrence
- Sarah Silverman as Paula Klein, Conner's publicist
- Tim Meadows as Harry Duggins, Conner's manager
- Maya Rudolph as Deboarah, a representative for Aquaspin
- Joan Cusack as Tilly Friel, Connor's mother
- Imogen Poots as Ashley Wednesday, Conner's girlfriend
- Chris Redd as Hunter the Hungry, an underground rapper who tours with Conner
- Edgar Blackmon as Eddie, a member of Conner's entourage
- James Buckley as Sponge, a member of Conner's entourage
- Ashley Moore as Sarah, Conner's personal assistant
- Bill Hader as Zippy, Conner's roadie
- Justin Timberlake as Tyrus Quash, Conner's chef (uncredited)
- Will Arnett, Eric Andre, Mike Birbiglia, and Chelsea Peretti as CMZ reporters
- Emma Stone as Claudia Cantrell, a well-known pop singer (uncredited)
- Kevin Nealon as Gary Sikes, the label photographer
- Paul Scheer as the wolf handler
- Joanna Newsom as Steam Punk Doctor
- Liz Cackowski as the Poppies stage manager
- "Weird Al" Yankovic as the lead singer of Hammerleg
- Danny Strong as Conner's perspective manipulator
- Will Forte as Conner's bagpipe player
Cameos as themselves
- ASAP Rocky
- Big Boy
- Michael Bolton
- Win Butler
- Mariah Carey
- Régine Chassagne
- Simon Cowell
- Danger Mouse
- DJ Khaled
- Jimmy Fallon
- 50 Cent
- Steve Higgins
- Walter Jones
- Adam Levine
- Mario Lopez
- Paul McCartney
- Katy Perry
- The Roots
- Martin Sheen
- Ed Sheeran
- Snoop Dogg
- Ringo Starr
- Chrissy Teigen
- Steven Tyler
- Carrie Underwood
- Pharrell Williams
The film was released in the United States on June 3, 2016, and in the UK on August 26, 2016 by Universal Pictures. It did not get an international release.
The movie was advertised on YouTube the month of its release date. On May 10, 2016, Samberg made an appearance on NBC's The Voice in character as Conner4real to perform "I'm So Humble", alongside judge Adam Levine, and give answers to contestants in a humorous Q&A session.
Samberg then made a guest appearance on the season finale of Saturday Night Live, on May 21, 2016. Promoted as a new SNL Digital Short, he appeared in character as Conner4real and debuted a song from the movie ("Finest Girl"). Taccone and Schaffer received guest writing credits for the episode.
|Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping|
|Soundtrack album by|
|Released||June 3, 2016|
|The Lonely Island chronology|
|1.||"I'm So Humble" (featuring Adam Levine)||Stress||2:33|
|2.||"Hot New Single (Dialogue)"||0:12|
|3.||"Equal Rights" (featuring Pink)||2:25|
|4.||"Turn Up the Beef" (featuring Emma Stone)||Woods||2:03|
|5.||"Finest Girl (Bin Laden Song)"||Woods||2:30|
|7.||"Are or Aren't? (Dialogue)"||0:13|
|8.||"Hunter the Hungry Is Gon’ Eat" (featuring Chris Redd)||Deputy||2:03|
|9.||"Should I Move?" (featuring Akon)||Motte||2:19|
|10.||"2 Banditos" (featuring Chris Redd)||DJ Frank E||1:56|
|11.||"Things in My Jeep" (featuring Linkin Park)||Harrell||2:06|
|12.||"Kill This Music (Dialogue)"||0:06|
|13.||"Ashley Wednesday" (featuring Seal)||2:30|
|16.||"Trip to Spain (Dialogue)"||0:21|
|19.||"What Was That Beat? (Dialogue)"||0:16|
|21.||"Incredible Thoughts" (featuring Michael Bolton and Justin Timberlake [credited as Mr. Fish])||Kinetics & One Love||2:56|
|22.||"Me Likey Dat"||CHOPS||1:06|
|24.||"I'm a Weirdo"||Banks||1:51|
|26.||"Rock Roll Skate"||1:56|
|27.||"Hey Ya Ho" (featuring Chris Redd)||Arthur McArthur||1:25|
|Canadian Albums (Billboard)||74|
|US Billboard 200||69|
|US Top Comedy Albums (Billboard)||1|
|US Top Rap Albums (Billboard)||6|
|US Soundtrack Albums (Billboard)||3|
In the United States, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping opened on June 3, 2016, alongside Me Before You and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows and was expected to gross around $7 million from 2,311 theaters in its opening weekend. The film grossed $322,000 from its Thursday previews and $1.8 million on its first day. In its opening weekend, the film grossed $4.6 million and finishing 8th at the box office. The film was a box office bomb, grossing just $9.5 million against its $20 million budget.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 78% based on 164 reviews, with an average rating of 6.7/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping updates the rock mockumentary for the 21st century mainstream – and hits many of its low-hanging targets with side-splitting impact." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 68 out of 100, based on 43 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.
Vince Mancini of Uproxx gave the film a positive review, saying: "It's as stupid as it is relevant, and that layering of humor styles — insightful satire, no-holds-barred vulgarity, irresistible juvenilia, surreal pop art, timeless deadpan — are Popstar‘s hallmark. It's smart, dumb, silly, and gross in all the right ways. I loved it." David Palmer of The Reel Deal gave the film 8/10, calling it the best comedy of 2016 and praised the songs. Ignatiy Vishnevetsky of The A.V. Club wrote: "No music mockumentary has really managed to reproduce This Is Spinal Tap's comic mojo, but Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping gets closer than most to that subgenre-defining comedy's mix of the dead-on and the over-the-top, even if it tends to go for quantity over quality."
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