Here Comes The Boom – 2012
Director Frank Coraci
Starring Kevin James, Salma Hayek, Henry Winkler, Bas Rutten, Gary Valentine, Greg Germann, Mark DellaGrotte
Screenplay James and Allan Loeb
As the movie opens, we get to see Scott Voss (James) laying in bed as he sleeps past his alarm. We see one strategically placed Cheeto at his chest and from here, we eventually pan over to a tiny bag of the same brand. This represents an improvement in his movie life. He’s now a bit smaller of a slob. By design.
Kevin James’ movies are all about these things: hugging, learning and overcoming. This one throws a little MMA into the mix, and because of it, rises above the usual junk he puts out. Not real far above the junk, though. The learning is in the form of teaching. Voss starts out as an unenthusiastic teacher working a second job…teaching. Why he works the second job, it seems, is so he can meet up with an ex-fighter (Rutten) who is studying to become a citizen. The other things Voss learns is that his adversarial principal (Germann) is trying to get rid of the music program, run by the tenured teacher (Winkler) who just found out he and his wife are expecting. There are many other things that our teacher has to learn (and teach) as the film goes on. This is accompanied with a variety of verbal and physical hugs along the way. It’s obvious what he needs to overcome.
The key to success is in the casting of Rutten as Niko. He’s nowhere near a stereotype as a fighter, or an immigrant. He has wonderful comic presence, without necessarily having an abundance of comic lines written for him. His physical gifts are integrated perfectly with the personality. It would be nice to see what he could do in other films.
Gary Valentine plays Voss’ brother, Eric, in what is a near perfect performance. He looks like James, but is much funnier. He should be in all of James movies, playing the roles that James plays. Maybe then there would not be so many sad sack attempts at sympathy between the attempts at laughs.
Hayek gives the usual Salma performance. If only her acting skill matched her looks. Winkler does this gentle hippie meets Mr. Holland’s Opus thing. It’s less than inspiring comic material, but he’s never been more huggable.
It’s hard to believe this is the same team behind the farces that are The Dilemma and Zookeeper. For one thing, the women tend to fare better here than horrid, cheating and abusive wenches. Mostly angels, to be sure, but at least none of them are taking advantage of him. And there’s no animals to the rescue or eating disorders to be seen either. But then there’s Voss’ fighting for the kids.
About the fighting. It’s kind of like a light version of MMA…really light. You see a lot of the fighters, but the moves are a lot different, the holes in the defense are bigger, and there is plenty of time to look into the crowd for inspiration and advice. James takes a hell of a lot of hits, kicks and slams. If it worked for Stallone to get beat to a pulp, there could be less convincing choices than James.
James has potential to be decent, if boring. If he can somehow drop the mawkishness and the 1970’s Chris Makepeace sappiness, he could be more watchable. Here Comes the Boom is a good start.
(***1/2 out of *****)