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The story of a bad teacher turned good isn’t a new idea of course, and as comedies go, not entirely original, but there is a certain charm to Frank Coraci‘s Here Comes The Boom, with a particularly good performance from Kevin James, who doesn’t play the usual frumpy, bumbling loser so mach as the frumpy, bumbling loser with a twist. He delivers a pretty heartfelt turn as an honest man on a bad streak who finds some inner strength while unexpectedly helping a fellow teacher. It’s a predicable film, but full of heart, and while it follows a formula, works surprisingly well. That said, what so great about it?
Sure, a lot of movies in the genre pack their soundtracks with some popular hits to try and flavor the story, but every once in while, a track list comes along that hits it right. And with Here Comes the Boom, those hits hit big. The movie centers on the fights of course, but it uses music not so much as prop but as key plot point, giving the story a nice second layer and filling the soundtrack with great tunes. From P.O.D.‘s adrenaline-pushing ‘Boom,’ from which the movie’s title gets its name to a battle-busting, epic ‘Holly Holy’ remix with Neil Diamond and Michael John Wagner that energizing the second half, there is just one great song after another, and all of them feel like a perfect fit. By the end of the movie, you’ll be up and out of your seat, feet moving and arms swinging. Boom!
If you’re going to have a movie set in a school, inevitably, there’s going to be the band of misfit students who populate the peripheral and motivate certain tributaries of the plot. With Here Comes The Boom, there’s the usual mixed up kids, and yet, they somehow feel authentic, especially a shinning star named Charice who plays Malia, a young girl with incredible spirit, who struggles to keep her dreams alive and save her relationship with her father. Charice, and few others are really charming and make a great impression as little sidekicks to the plot. Mix that up with the music theme and you get a rousing moment in a stadium with a high school orchestra and a metric ton of motivation. It’s great to have child actors who sell it rather than manipulate it.
It’s hard to find anything wrong with Salma Hayek, a star known for her beauty who is a remarkable talent that should be in the lead far more than she is. Playing a love interest is nothing new for the stunner, and finding her here is not much of a surprise, especially considering her affiliation with Kevin James and Adam Sandler, and yet … she is more than window dressing here, playing a smart, even challenging character that demands of Scoot Voss (James) to earn her affection, and even then it’s not so easy. Hayek is fun to watch of course, but there’s something her comedic timing, something she’s always been good with, that works here particularly well. James is a natural funny man, but in the wrong movie, he can’t deliver. Hayek though, well, she’s on every time (even when she’s in a bad movie like Wild Wild West). Love her style.
Okay, so yes, as mentioned above, this is predictable, but there’s a combination of what seems like impossibly unmatchable parts here that come together with, well, a boom. Written by Allan Loeb and Kevin James, the script is sharp and definitely funny, but more importantly, honest. Voss is a messy character, yet he knows it, and we identify easily with him, a man living in the memories of his glory days, looking for inspiration. Finding untapped talent is one thing, but it’s Voss’ growth that, while obvious, feels, well, kinda well-earned. James sells it from frame one, and the setting of the UFC as a hurdle is a pretty compelling one, even if there might be a few too many subplots. Add to this some excellent direction from Coraci, who gets us real close to the action in the octagon, and this makes for a fun, satisfying, and even a little motivating movie experience.
Man, this guy is great. You might think this movie is about a disillusioned biology teacher who finds inner strength in helping his school overcome a financial hardship by fighting in the UFC, earning trust and romance along the way, but in truth, it’s about a music teacher who learns that there is great friendship in this world, and love that is bound by no limits. Winkler plays Marty Streb, who is surprised to find out, on the same day, that his wife is pregnant and the school is shutting down his program due to budget cuts. He is the movie, one hundred percent. Winkler has taken well to some memorable supporting parts as he ages, yet here, he gives what is easily his best performance, funny and emotional, taking this movie to the next level in every way. He brings the boom.