Wish all of my teachers beat the shit out of guys in their spare-time.
Scott Voss (Kevin James) is a 42-year-old apathetic biology teacher in a failing high school. When cutbacks threaten to cancel the music program and lay off its teacher (Henry Winkler), Scott begins to raise money by moonlighting as a mixed martial arts fighter.
In my humble opinion, watching a Kevin James movie isn’t as unbearable as some make it out to be. Paul Blart: Mall Cop wasn’t great, but yet it wasn’t the cringe-inducing spectacle I was expecting; Zookeeper is thankfully, a ship that I did not sail and still do not plan on doing so unless I’m drunk, lonely, and bored one Tuesday night (tomorrow night, maybe?); and even The Dilemma allowed him to stretch out some promising dramatic-muscles as well, even though the film was barely something to recommend. So, that’s honestly why I wasn’t dreading the hell out of this thing because I like James, I like UFC, and I like movies that revolve around it (looking at you, Warrior), regardless of who’s in them. And thankfully, James likes it too and doesn’t lose that spirit that only comes present when you’re watching two dudes beat the ever loving shit out of each other on a mat. Oh yeah, brings me back to the golden days.
Even though it’s not as bad as James’ last outings, there still is a lot of problems that cannot be avoided, no matter what the subject-material may be. James still finds his way of slipping, sliding, and falling down in order to conjure up some laughter and while it may work in some of his goofier flicks, here, it doesn’t sit so well which is strange considering the whole movie revolves around him slipping, sliding, and falling down, but this time, in a ring instead of just a normal place on Earth to walk. No matter how you put it, Kevin, slap-stick isn’t very funny unless you’re names are either Moe, Larry, or Curly, and even then maybe not. Basically, the comedy of this movie doesn’t really work when it’s trying too hard and that’s a good part of this film as well.
However, when it does focus on it’s story, it actually proves to be an entertaining flick that has something more going for it rather than just being about a guy getting his ass kicked, in order to get some moolah. In fact, that premise that I just typed-out write there would probably be a dark, depressing indie-drama, had it not starred Kevin James, but thankfully, it does star Kevin James and we get to smile enough throughout the whole film. It’s a story that hits the obvious cliches and conventions that you would expect from a sports underdog movie that doesn’t try to re-invent the wheel, but there isn’t really anything all that wrong with that here. It’s entertaining to watch and it’s a story that may keep you glued in, especially when the fight scenes come up.
Actually, the fight scenes are what makes this film so much fun to watch considering it’s all real and barely done with any CGI or stunt-work. Now, I’m not saying when James gets kneed right in the head and suffers a concussion that that is exactly what happened to him and we’re getting the chance to watch it all play-out on film, but a lot of the fights, training sequences, and scenes, are done by James and his crew and it’s a nice reminder that actors who are passionate about their own subjects (no matter how conventional they may come off to be), can still deliver and allow themselves to get their heart and pride out there for everybody to see. Maybe a UFC movie starring Kevin James isn’t exactly the passion-project you would be expecting me to be talking about, but I’m just glad it was fun and that’s all that matters.
Something else that also matters about this movie is how Kevin James is in this movie, and believe it or not, the guy still oozes charm out of every pore. James starts out as kind of a schlub, but eventually gets into the knack of things and becomes more determined and inspired in life and it feels real with James’ acting. No, this is no Oscar-worthy performance here, but James makes the best of it all and allows us to see what’s so special about this guy in the first-place and why he still deserves to make movies. Another element to this guy’s performance is how he handled himself in and out of the ring with his look and stature. James, as we all know, is known for being that big, tubby guy that somehow lands the hottest gals in movies, but changes all of that fat into some muscle and looks pretty good with it, too. Not saying I’d hit that or anything, but the guy gets in good-shape for a role that could have easily gone down as just a normal dude, getting in mediocre shape, for a mediocre role. At least, that’s how I imagined it.
James isn’t the only one who seems to be having fun, though, as everybody else in this cast seems to be in a more playful mood then we have ever seen them before. Henry Winkler plays the music teacher that James is fighting for and once again, plays one of those soft, off-kilter types that seems totally out-of-place, but makes every scene his comedy play-land. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with the Fonz. You just can’t, no matter what the movie may be. I was also glad to see a UFC favorite of mine, former real-life champ Bas Rutten, give off a very energetic and wild performance as James’ trainer, Niko. Rutten does show-up in movies and TV shows here and there, but this is the role that really allows him to go balls-deep out there and just play around for awhile, and I can’t complain about it at all considering the guy is so much damn fun to watch on-screen. It’s a serious wonder why this guy doesn’t do more movies that cater towards his comedic talents, because the guy’s got it. Can’t even believe I’m saying that about a former UFC-fighter.
The one in this cast that doesn’t even seem needed is sadly, Salma Hayek. If anything, Hayek is here to provide beautiful and luscious eye-candy for both us, and James’ character and as hard as it is to watch her go, she needed no place whatsoever in this movie and it could have easily went on and on without her, and nothing would have changed. Hate saying that, but it’s the truth. Please, still call me Salma. Please.
Consensus: It’s predictable, obvious, cliched, and tries a tad too hard to be funny, but Here Comes the Boom still seems to have plenty of fun with itself, it’s cast, and it’s story that comes off as more passionate and heartfelt than you would expect from your usual James vehicle.