Sneak Peek: Popstar
Universal Pictures’ Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is headlined by musical digital-shorts superstars Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, collectively known as The Lonely Island. The comedy goes behind the scenes as singer/rapper Conner4Real (Samberg) faces a crisis of popularity after his sophomore album flops, leaving his fans, sycophants and rivals all wondering what to do when he’s no longer the dopest star of all.
Starring: Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, Akiva Schaffer, Sarah Silverman, Tim Meadows, Maya Rudolph, Joan Cusack
Directed By: Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone
Produced By: Judd Apatow, Rodney Rothman, Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone
This transcript has been lightly edited:
The Critic: Well, listeners, guess what? The Ref went to see a Sneak Peek, a screening, of “Popstar: Never Stop Never (with the Referee) Stopping.” (laughter) This comes to us from Andy Samberg of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “SNL,” Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone. They wrote, produced, and starred in it — all three of them. Along with them, producing, is Judd Apatow — what? (laughter) And, in the cast: Tim Meadows, Imogen Poots — all of these people — Sarah Silverman. Now, look, this is all a take on Justin Bieber’s documentary. So, take it from there, Ref. (laughter) Was this funny? Let me just start there. Was this funny? Was this a riot?
The Referee: You know what? I tweeted, not too long ago, that I went through a process: I cringed; I giggled …
Ref: I closed my eyes; and then I cringed again. (laughter) It’s a real emotional rollercoaster — but, actually, it’s not that deep. Yes, you are right: The stars and the writers all collide together to create this faux documentary that hints towards Justin Bieber’s “Never Say Never.”
Ref: The main character, who is played by Andy himself, is this wonderful, amazing pop star who, sort of, came through the ranks as one of the leading singers and developer of pop music. And, his name is Conner4Real.
Ref: And, he came up with this, sort of, Beastie Boy trio, played with, of course, Jorma Taccone and the other director …
Ref: Akiva. So, the three of them came up through the music scene together. And, of course, Andy is the breakout star.
Critic: Yeah, he’s the Justin Timberlake. (laughter)
Ref: (laughing) Well, yeah, the Justin Timberlake. He’s the Nick Lachey …
Ref: … character who busts out from the team. But, you soon realize through the documentary that, just because you have talent, doesn’t mean that you can also have the brains and the fortitude to maneuver through the pop world.
Critic: Is this a comedy? Wait a minute! (laughter)
Ref: (laughing) It is a comedy. I promise! So, that’s the depth of the story. Now, listen, this particular (laughing) — this particular film is from start, from jump — has every joke that you can imagine: the crude ones, the funny ones, the not-so funny ones. And, in the first 10 minutes, you are literally holding on to your seats. Because, if you miss a word, you’re gonna to miss a joke.
Ref: So, it’s a real thrill ride and totally mocking, mimicking the pop world. Everything from the R&B, nasty, grind songs …
Critic: Oh. Wait a minute, Ref. Wait a minute. (laughter)
Ref: … to the ridiculous, sort of, catchphrase sayings that pop stars come up with and how they’re made famous with those things. So, to back it up, the plot develops soon enough that we find that it’s not easy being at the top; it’s not easy staying at the top.
Ref: You see the highs and lows of Conner4Real.
Critic: (laughing) (singing) “It’s not easy being green.” (laughter)
Ref: (laughing) It’s not easy being a pop star. And, by the end of it, it’s gonna end exactly how you think it ends. Now, with that being said, you’re going to, in this movie, get a ton of cameos. And, you have everybody from Mariah Carey, Seal, to a surprise ending cameo that they’re sort of leaking out now, but I won’t say.
Ref: J.T. is in it; Jimmy Fallon, Questlove, Nas, Usher, all kinds of people are in the mix. And, Mariah Carey, I must say, has a very, very funny line that you will thoroughly enjoy. She speaks a little truth about herself. (laughter)
Critic: Oh. Ouch.
Ref: But, at the essence, this particular movie is more for the millennial, right?
Ref: If you’re a little bit over the age bracket, you’re not gonna get some of the inside pop jokes, because they do play on what’s going on currently … and just making fun of that. Andy Samberg is absolutely endearing. He, sort of, carries us through this whole, like, “Yeah, man. I’m Conner4Real.” (laughter) This cheesy, played-out kind of pop star, but in an endearing way.
Ref: Jorma Taccone, who stays on board with Conner4Real, plays this endearing friend. And, their friendship is tested throughout.
Critic: Is he the DJ?
Ref: He’s the DJ.
Critic: Yeah. Uh-huh.
Ref: Here’s the question at hand …
Ref: (laughing) Is it worth watching at the movies?
Critic: That’s the question. Now, look, it’s the summertime coming. It’s hot outside. Can I get my big gallon of Coke and sit in the theater and enjoy it?
Ref: Well, you might need two big gallons of Coke, (laughter) because there are some moments — it is rated R — there’s a particularly very crude moment. I know; I may seem like a prude. But, it’s a very, very crude moment — some nudity! (laughter)
Critic: Uh-huh. Yeah.
Ref: That’s a little like: I don’t know about ushering in your little 13-year-old or 12-year-old to see it, because there is a specific moment. And, there are some f-bombs and drug use and things like that. Now, overall, it’s a summer flick. It’s best seen with a crowd, like I did: People are laughing and chuckling …
Ref: … and getting the inside jokes. Is it necessarily worth 15, 20 dollars? Well, the question is: Do you wanna just, kind of, throw your head back, not think for a while, and just let Andy Samberg entertain you with his (laughing) ridiculous lyrics? (laughter) His ridiculous performances? …
Critic: I love that guy. I love Andy.
Ref: And his ridiculous cast? Do you want to do that? And, that’s totally left up to you. But, just realize this: If you see “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping,” (laughter) just get ready to cringe while you’re giggling. So … (laughter)
Critic: You know what? We have all we need to know. Thanks, Ref.