Bring the Funny... and the Pain!
★ ★ ★ ★ out of 5 buckets | Matinee and DVD
Rated: PG Some rude humor, language and bouts of MMA sports violence
Release Date: October 12, 2012
Runtime: 1 hour 45 minutes
Director: Frank Coraci
Writers: Kevin James, Rock Reuben, Allan Loeb
Cast: Kevin James, Salma Hayek, Henry Winkler, Greg Germann, Joe Rogan, Gary Valentine, Bas Rutten, Krzysztof Soszynski
SYNOPSIS: A high school biology teacher, in order to raise thousands of dollars to save the school's music program, concocts a crazy plan to become a local mixed martial arts fighter.
REVIEW: Director Frank Coraci, known for Zookeeper and The Waterboy, continues with his Kevin James star for a hard-hitting comedy that will end up hurting a little bit. Based on a script by James, Zookeeper scribe Rock Rueben, and Rock of Ages writer Allan Loeb, Kevin James plays a defeated teacher who tries to redeem himself as an educator and a fighter in order to save his school's extra-curricular activities.
Scott Voss (Kevin James, Zookeeper), a biology teacher for years, finds himself barely able to care about the students in his class. When a teacher/principal meeting brings to light that all of the school's extra-curricular activities, including Marty Streb's (Henry Winkler, Click) music class, will need to be cut in order to stay within budget, Scott takes on Principal Betcher (Greg Germann, Bolt) in an attempt to raise the $50,000 to save the school programs. Aided by Marty, the school's health technician Bella Flores (Salma Hayek, The Pirates! Band of Misfits), and one of his naturalization citizenship course attendees, Niko (Bas Rutten, Paul Blart: Mall Cop), Scott enters the world of competitive mixed martial arts to try to win enough money to save the school programs.
Kevin James gets in the Octagon of mixed martial arts with all the training of, well, a forty-something biology teacher. Couple that with his typical oafish underdog demeanor and charm that you have come to expect from James, and you have the comedic version of Joel Edgerton's Warrior. Both are high school teachers with some fighting or wrestling background forced into hand-to-hand competition because of financial reasons. Both battle against pressure from their peers, students, principals, and internet videos. Both even have brothers with their own issues to deal with. Here Comes The Boom's Gary Valentine plays financially strapped brother, painter and family man Eric Voss, a much different man than the talented torture of Tom Hardy.
There are plenty of laughs as evident from the trailers. Luckily, the laughs don't stop there. Kevin James' physical antics are worth the price of admission. From failed slam dunks as a bet to cook dinner for Bella to some of the early unsanctioned underground MMA events, Kevin James' Scott Voss is the epitome of a man out of his depth. Watching him venture out on his reluctant and defiant journey is akin to watching a funnier version of Stallone's Rocky Balboa train for his fight against Apollo Creed or Drago. Add in fine chemistry between Voss and Bella, and silly interactions with foreign residents looking to become naturalized citizens, and the laughs take on all comers.
James bringing the funny is just one of the facets to this film. Here Comes The Boom also is an underdog story of a man trying to make good. Becoming a mixed martial arts competitor is not his first plan, but in order to raise enough money before the end of the school year, he puts life and limb on the line against far more experienced fighters. As Voss moves from one undercard to another, and raises bits of cash to submit to the school, he must face his own pain and uncertainties. There are some fairly aggressive fighting sequences in the last third of the film that will exchange the smiles for winching, and laughs for cringes. Kevin James strikes a good balance between the action, story, and humor.
If you liked Kevin James in Paul Blart: Mall Cop, you will enjoy Here Comes The Boom just fine! Add in Henry Winkler with a Water Boy caliber performance and a supporting cast that serves to make for a painfully good time. You may laugh until you are doubled over in pain, and may cringe with every MMA blow that James takes in the caged octagon, but you will have a good time. Of course there is silliness and a plot hole or two, but you can't help but root for a man fighting way out of his league in order to make sure that his students have a future.
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