19 October 2012

Here Comes the Boom

I am a fan of mixed martial arts.  There have been a few movies made recently trying to bring that sport to the big screen.  They have been unsuccessful in the box office.  Last year’s Warrior was one of the most criminally under-seen films of the year.  It barely made a blip on the box office radar, before submitting with a total of less than $14 million.  Before that, Never Back Down was hated by audiences and critics alike, but managed to make just shy of $25 million before tapping out back in 2008.  And then there was David Mamet’s fantastic but barely even released Redbelt also in 2008.  It barely saw any screen time, as seen by its paltry $2.3 million box office take.  So, maybe MMA is not meant to be shown on the silver screen.

In the other corner, there is Kevin James.  He hit the movie theaters hard with Hitch, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry and Grown Ups.  Some thought it was because of Will Smith and Adam Sandler that those movies made the money they did.  James proved them wrong with the atrocity that was Paul Blart: Mall Cop.  I never finished it.  Since then, Kevin James has made The Dilemma and Te Zookeeper, neither of which met expectations.  Yet, someone in Hollywood decided that Kevin James in an MMA film would work.

Here Comes the Boom is the result.  It starts with biology teacher Scott Voss (James) trying to sneak into his classroom without Principal Betcher (Greg Germann) noticing his lateness.  He fails and finds himself with bus duty, a task he does not want.  Scott goes to music teacher Marty (Henry Winkler) to cover for him.  Marty finds out that his much younger wife is pregnant, and swears Scott to secrecy.  After school that day, Principal Betcher announces that the school is facing budget cuts and that they will be cutting the music department.  This causes Scott to stand up both figuratively and literally.  He proposes that they raise the money needed to keep the music department, $48,000.

Scott’s plan is to teach citizenship classes at night, but that is just a drop in the bucket at $8.00 an hour.  After class one night, he is approached by Niko (Bas Rutten) who asks him to privately teach him because he really needs to pass the test.  One evening, Scott goes over to Niko’s, and they watch a UFC fight where the loser made $10,000.  Scott then decides to become an MMA fighter to raise the money.  How could this go wrong?  He was a great wrestler in college, and Niko was a fighter before ruining his neck while training.

Scott takes some beatings as he tries to lose his way to $48,000, and utilizes the school nurse Bella (Selma Hayek) to patch him up.  Of course, he has the hots for her, and tries to wear down her defenses.  She, of course, thinks he is doing a noble thing.  In one fight, Scott accidentally knocks out his opponent, and discovers it pays a lot more to win.  That would mean that he has to be in fewer fights to raise the money.  Niko calls on Mark DellaGrotte to train Scott in striking.  Mark is a real highly regarded MMA trainer.  By a stroke of luck, UFC announcer Joe Rogan sees Scott fight, and gets the UFC to grant him a shot to compete.  The purse is $10, 000 to lose, or $50, 000 to win.

Here Comes the Boom is not a great movie.  It is not a bad movie either.  It fights with itself on tone.  I think the story is good enough, but I think the comedy is bad.  Bas Rutten is not an actor, and his comedy comes off flat.  Kevin James is a comedian, and his dramatic attempts come off just as flat.  With a better cast and little tweaking to the story, Here Comes the Boom could be a much better film than it is.  It also struggles because for some unknown reason, it got slapped with a PG rating.  I don’t know how it got that as opposed to PG-13, but PG-13 would have given them even more room to breath.  Here Comes the Boom is mindless entertaining with a good heart, but it comes with a lot of problems.

RATING: 5/10