Watching Here Comes the Boom, you get the feeling the writers tried to mash together the films Warrior and Mr. Holland’s Opus, then inject some slapstick into what they thought would make a hilarious script. Unfortunately, just like Kevin James character in the film, most of the time it just ends up falling flat on its back.
The predictable plot for Here Comes the Boom goes something like this: One-time “Teacher of the Year” Scott Voss (James) has fallen into a lackadaisical teaching slump over the past 10 years. Seemingly content to sit in class reading a newspaper while his students draw on their desks, Voss is just killing time. That is until fellow teacher and friend Marty, (played nicely here by none other than the Fonz himself, Henry Winkler) might lose his job based on budget cutbacks. While making a little extra money on the side teaching a citizenship class, Voss discovers that one of his students from Holland (Bas Rutten) used to be an up-and-coming MMA fighter. After finding out that you can make money even by losing a fight, a plan is quickly hatched to save Marty’s job that involves a lot of pain and hopefully some quick gain. There’s also a halfhearted attempted romance with Salma Hayek’s school nurse character, and an underlying story of how schools aren’t doing enough to help properly educate the kids. Even with a laughable plot twist that pushes Scott’s character to try and actually win the big fight, this film never really finds its footing.
This is the latest from Happy Madison Productions which quite honestly has failed to deliver the comedic goods with their last three offerings. Zookeeper, Jack and Jill, and That’s My Boy were widely panned and didn’t necessarily bring the laughs as expected. Director Frank Coraci has fared much better with past hits like The Wedding Singer, The Waterboy, and even 2006’s lukewarmly received Click. In fact, halfway through this film you almost wish Adam Sandler would show up as a washed up MMA fighter who sits on somebody’s head, and then tells a good old fashioned fart joke.
While Kevin James is usually decent in the slapstick genre, here it just feels like you’re watching a fat guy get beat up, and unless you’re a 12-year-old boy, it becomes a little repetitive. We never really get a feel for any of the characters including an underused Hayek, and the usually funny Greg Germann who plays the high school principal. Joe Rogan makes a cameo, and certainly should have been allowed to rant some funny material during the film’s fight scenes that would have added some much needed laughs. There are a few chuckle moments here and there, but we’re never really rewarded with any sidesplitting scenes or even a funny training montage. For motorcycle fans, James’s character has a pretty neat bike that seems to be featured in a lot of early scenes to play up his cool factor. Beyond that, there’s not a lot here to like.
The films final UFC fight, which is surprisingly realistic and well-choreographed, won’t necessarily want to make audiences stand up and cheer, but it does offer a nice reward for sitting through the 90 minutes. Not to play up the “fat jokes”, but by the end, viewers will almost wish there would have been a few script revisions that included a Biggest Loser weight loss finale, instead of the ending given.
In closing, much like a scene featured in the film where James can’t eat a piece of delicious cheesecake and instead must try to enjoy a salad to keep up his diet, most moviegoers might leave the theater feeling like one does after eating a salad, unsatisfied.