*1/2 (out of four)
Sorry, art and theater departments.
A Boston high school principal (Greg Germann) says he has to cut all non-athletic extracurricular activities, but no one mentions any programs besides music. Biology teacher Scott Voss (Kevin James), who is so checked out that he hides behind the sports section to avoid seeing a student's raised hand, suddenly insists that the music program and its teacher, Marty (Henry Winkler), must be saved because Marty's wife Molie (Nikki Tyler-Flynn) is pregnant. Because “Here Comes the Boom” comes from Adam Sandler's ever-misogynistic production company, Happy Madison, the announcement of Molie's pregnancy follows Scott joking that the chances of a 48-year-old woman becoming pregnant hinge on the way she looks.
Scott’s fundraising mission leads him into the mixed martial arts cage, where he figures his collegiate wrestling success and ham-shaped figure will keep him alive amid the pummelings on his way to prize money awarded to losers. Salute the guy who suffers for his cause, but Scott’s far from an admirable do-gooder or even a conflicted bruiser like Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton’s characters in last year’s “Warrior.” In fact, “Here Comes the Boom” plays like a moronic comedic sidekick to that under-seen, far superior film.
The script, written by James and total hack Allen Loeb (“21,” “The Switch”), finds more ways to generate shudders instead of laughs.
Scott’s a manipulative sleaze whose persistence toward school nurse Bella (Salma Hayek) easily crosses into sexual harassment, most disturbingly when he says that when Bella says no, she really means yes. He takes a side job teaching a citizenship class, simply because “Here Comes the Boom” finds minorities (and their confusion) inherently hilarious. He dishes out casual homophobia, telling a student not to look up his pants because “you’re better than that.” Scott’s actions stem from Molie’s pregnancy, but he shows extremely little interest in it. The movie grants minimal attention to women other than the beautiful Bella, who doesn’t care that Scott, after he’s finally granted a date with his crush, begins their relationship with a lie by presenting a meal someone else cooked as his own.
Forget honesty and originality, right? “Boom” recognizes the educational problem of unmotivated teachers, weakly tackled in “Won’t Back Down,” but doesn’t even mention “Dead Poets Society” when suggesting the simple solution is standing on a desk to get kids’ attention. The lesson Happy Madison should but will never learn, meanwhile, is that there’s more to comedy than vomit and butt cracks.
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