Review of Here Comes the Boom


Movie Review: "Here Comes the Boom"

-- Rating: PG
Length: 105 minutes
Release Date: October 12, 2012
Directed by: Frank Coraci
Genre: Action/Comedy

"Here Comes the Boom" is an original sports comedy written by Allan Loeb and Kevin James and directed by Frank Caraci. It was filmed in the Boston, Massachusetts, area during the spring of 2011. This film stars Kevin James in the lead role of Scott Voss, Salma Hayek as Bella Flores, and Henry Winkler as Marty.

James got his start in entertainment in 1989 as a stand-up comedian before entering the world of television acting in 1998. He is best known as Doug Hefferman on the television comedy series "King of Queens," which ran from 1998 to 2007. James has also starred in several films since 2005, mostly physical comedies.

Several fighters in the Ultimate Fighting Championship have cameos as themselves in "Here Comes the Boom," such as Brian Stann, Chael Sonnen, and Wanderlei Silva. The UFC is the world's largest promotion company for mixed martial arts and contains most of the top-ranked MMA fighters in the world.

Scott Voss is high school teacher who finds his job of teaching biology at Wilkinson High School a bore; this school is failing due to budget cuts. Marty Streb (Henry Winkler) is a friend of Voss who runs the music program and is in danger of being laid off. Voss wants to raise $48,000 to keep the music program going, so he begins teaching a citizenship class at night.

Niko (Bas Rutten) is a student in the citizenship class who asks Voss to tutor him. Voss agrees and meets Niko at his apartment for his first lesson. Voss learns that Niko is an ex-MMA fighter when they watch a fight on UFC and that the loser of a match receives $10,000. He decides to raise money for his school by entering an MMA match on a UFC undercard. Voss later discovers that one of his colleagues has embezzled money, forcing him to win his fight in order to be paid. He wins the fight and receives $50,000, allowing the school to keep the music program.

"Here Comes the Boom" is as much a feel-good sports film as it is an action comedy. James' long experience with physical comedy comes in handy when he steps into the ring with real UFC fighters. His persona as a bumbling lummox is further strengthened when he appears to receive enormous punishment at the hands of these MMA champions.

The film delivers its comedy forcefully, although the plot is predictable. This is not surprising, given that Frank Coraci is also the director for other comedies such as "The Waterboy," starring Adam Sandler. The surprise in this film is that it has a story to tell, rather than simply relying on mugging for humorous effects as is usually the case with films in this genre. "Here Comes the Boom" also has a deeper message that deals with the pursuit of excellence, despite its tendency to do so from a soapbox.

James' character once showed promise as a biology teacher, but the budget cutbacks and bureaucracy of the high school have caused him to give up hope of advancing in his career. He now slacks off and allows his students to do the same when the film opens. Wrinkler shows his depth as an actor by playing a loopy music teacher who is the exact opposite character of Fonzie, which made him a known actor on "Happy Days" during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

"Here Comes the Boom" is primarily intended for children and young teenagers. Instead of building tension or developing a mystery, this film will keep them laughing all throughout. Adults will quickly recognize the standard plot in a sports film, where an underdog goes on to defeat the heavily favored champion.
Nevertheless, this film displays an unusual amount of sports savvy. The extreme sport of MMA is surprisingly realistic due in no small part to the use of UFC fighters who were still active when the film was made. The fight scenes are well choreographed, and the early bouts in the film are especially effective at showing Voss' resounding defeat.

Bas Rutten provides a tender portrayal as an aging MMA fighter. Rutten was a real UFC fighter who was already long retired when this film was made. "Here Comes the Boom" also uses several side stories to illustrate the battles that ordinary people fight every day. These include older adults becoming parents, immigrants taking a citizenship test, and older athletes dealing with age and injury.

Rating: 3 out of 5