Kevin James plays an apathetic public school teacher trying to save his school in Sony Pictures’ Here Comes the Boom, which he also wrote and produced. It also stars Salma Hayek, Henry Winkler, Joe Rogan, and Bas Rutten. Is this a feel good underdog sports movie or is it basically Paul Blart: Mixed Martial Arts Fighter?
Ten years ago, Scott Voss was one of the best teachers in the Boston, MA public school system. But that was then and this is now. After years of seeing the board of education run students through the system like cattle, Scott basically just comes to work to collect a paycheck. He is constantly getting into trouble with the school’s principal and his students are left uninspired. He’s so much of a sad sack that he can’t even get a date with the school nurse.
In the tough economic times, schools must resort in drastic budget cuts. By the end of the school year, Scott’s school is going to cut out every extra curricular activity, including the music program lead by one of the best teachers in the state. Knowing that his friend Marty will lose his job, Scott opens his big mouth and says he will help raise the $48,000 to save the school’s programs. The rest of the school’s faculty doesn’t share in Scott’s enthusiasm.
Fund raising begins and Scott gets a job teaching a citizenship class to hopeful immigrants trying to live the American Dream. One student, Niko, is having a troubles and asks Scott for help. Reluctantly Scott agrees and meets Niko at his house where Niko and his friends are watching the latest UFC (Ultimate Fighting Challenge) pay-per-view. There he discovers two things: that Niko was once a big time fighter that had to quit due to a serious neck injury and that even if a fighter loses a match, he still gets $10,000. With a background in collegiate wrestling, Scott comes up with the brilliant plan to moonlight as a mixed martial arts fighter and make enough money by losing enough matches. He makes a deal with Niko to teach him how to survive in the octagon in exchange for American history lessons.
Can Scott take enough beatings to save the school and his friend’s job without looking like a joke and possibly inspire people along the way?
As of late, Kevin James’ movies have been a bit of a joke and not the funny ha-ha joking kind of way. Movies like Paul Blart: Mall Cop and Zookeeper were cringeworthy to watch as James did physical gags over and over to try to squeak out the same reactions one would when watching a Jackass movie. How many times can he play the sad sack fat guy? When I heard about Here Comes the Boom, I was like: “Oh great, another Kevin James plays an obscure occupation and then gets hit in the nuts movie.” Needless to say I did not go into the theater with any high expectations whatsoever. Boy was I wrong. Here Comes the Boom could be classified as the typical sports cliche movie from the outside, but it had a ton of heart behind it. It’s not like We Are The Titans, where it was a social commentary on racism and bigotry, but it told the tale about a guy who has just been fed up with the system. So fed up, that he let his amazing teaching skills atrophy over time. The movie’s main theme is inspiration and how one selfless act can lead to another until everyone sort of pays it forward. That point is hammered home when James’ character explains stagnant cells to his biology class. That if one cell stops working, others will follow suit, but if just one gets kick started to work, then the whole system will work together until everything heals.
The movie is directed by Happy Madison Productions veteran Frank Coraci, whose film credits include Click, Zookeeper, The Water Boy and The Wedding Singer. So it seems that whenever regular director Dennis Dugan doesn’t want to take on a movie, Coraci steps in. Thank god Dennis was “busy” because Jack and Jill was god awful. I know this may hurt my credibility, but The Water Boy was one of my favorite Sandler movies, of course after Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore. So with the experience of a past sports analogy movie under his belt, Coraci did a great job with this one.
The cast is lead by Kevin James as Scott Voss. He also wrote and produced the film. He was funny, sincere and inspiring in his role. Another thing to applaud James was how great of shape he was in for the movie. I couldn’t tell if he was a bit out of shape at the beginning of the film, but toward the end you could see he was thinner in the face and his arms were huge. You can watch James go to the cage in a ridiculous get up to the theme of POD’s “Boom” (which is where the movie gets the title from, ironic because the actual song “Here Comes the Boom” by Nelly is entirely different). But as his character is developed and takes the situation seriously, James comes out focused and prepared. I won’t spoil the song for you, but it’s quite cute. The fight scenes were well choreographed, as it looked like James did his own stunts. People in their seats reacted to the fights as if they were actually watching a pay-per-view. I can honestly say I rooted for Scott Voss, but I’m a sucker for underdog stories.
The reason for James to start fighting was to save the job of music teacher, Marty, portrayed by Henry Winkler. I grew up with Winkler being the coolest guy in the world in his portrayal of the Fonze from Happy Days. It was heart breaking that this television icon was taking horrible roles that made him look weak minded, feeble, or insane. His portrayal of Marty the Music teacher still may have him being kind and gentle, but not at the expense of cheap laughs from theater goers. Winkler plays a guy that kids could only dream about having as an incredible music teacher. It may not be Robin Williams in Dead Poet Society, but it’s the actions of Winkler’s character that get the plot of the movie rolling. The supporting cast is filled with Salma Hayek as Bella the school nurse, Bas Rutten as Niko, and Greg Germann as the cold-hearted principal. If you are a fan of MMA and UFC, you’ll notice some of the fighters as well color commentator Joe Rogen.
Here Comes the Boom may not be that original of an idea, but I feel the movie accomplished what it set out to do: inspire. From the reaction of my fellow moviegoers, they were in all agreement that it also entertained. The movie was funny when it needed to be without going over the top, and became serious in all the right spots to justify James’ beatings. There were so many characters from students, family members, parents, and immigrants who all succeeded because of Voss trying to make a difference. If you are looking for a funny feel-good movie with the heart of Rocky and the inspiration of Dead Poets Society, then I highly recommend Here Comes the Boom. It might even inspire you in some sort of way.
In Theaters: October 12, 2012
Runtime: 104 min
Director: Frank Coraci
Cast: Kevin James, Henry Winkler, Salma Hayek, Joe Rogan, Bas Rutten
Genre: Action/Adventure, Comedy
Distributor: Sony Pictures
Official Site: http://boom-movie.com