By Louis Trythall
Here Comes The Boom is not a film of enormous subtlety. Or any subtlety, come to think of it. Though at least no one can complain that the title is some kind of subversive, misadvertisement. Playing out much like a filmic equivalent of a mixed martial arts fight itself, Frank Coraci‘s film is brash, loud, and in your face – and that’s just in the sequences that take place outside the ring.
Kevin James (who also co-writes) plays Scott Voss, an apathetic high school biology teacher, with a high propensity for slacking. Repeatedly late – and spending his days shirking responsibilities, and explaining to pupils that “the chances of you actually using anything you learn in this class is probably zero” – it isn’t difficult to understand why Scott’s by-the-book Principal (Greg Germann) sees Scott as a source of constant frustration.
But when a new school budget outlines that Marty Streb’s (Henry Winkler) music program must be scrapped in order to save money, Scott begins hatching a plan to save Marty’s job – and win the heart of sexy school nurse Bella Flores (Salma Hayek). Most of this, is of course just a pretext for Here Comes The Boom‘s real raison d’etre: our protagonist donning a leotard, and moonlighting as a mixed martial arts fighter, where inevitably, most of the laughs ensue.
Having met ex-fighter Niko (former Ultimate Fighting Championship Heavyweight champion Bas Rutten) at a US Citizenship class that he teaches, Scott seeks Niko’s help in training him towards achieving this frankly ludicrous goal; whilst Marty offers the kind of awkward moral support you’d expect from Henry Winkler. While there are definite laughs to be had watching Scott flounder hopelessly around in the ring, vomiting on opponents in victory, the humour of Here Comes The Boom is unapologetically one track. And much like 2008’s Step Brothers – where the humour rests almost singularly on whether you find the premise of two forty-somethings acting like 14-year-olds funny – Here Comes The Boom suffers from a similar lack of breadth. Certainly, if you don’t find its conceit at least passably funny on paper, Here Comes The Boom will do little else to convince you.
Yet, by and large, Here Comes The Boom hits enough of the right notes. Coraci and James turn the idiocy up to 11, and wring enough laughs out of the proceedings to prevent the film from collapsing in a bloodied, unconscious heap, mid-fight. Sure, the way in which Scott earns the respect of his peers and pupils stretches believably – didn’t Coraci get the memo that kids usually hate their teachers, regardless of their extracurricular activities? – but then again, applying rational logic to film about a 42-year-old teacher’s rise to UFC challenger seems perverse, at best.
Here Comes The Boom aims for a Bas Rutten ‘Liver Shot’, but ends up having to settle for a basic, punch, punch, kick combo. Frequently funny, but only infrequently hilarious, Here Comes The Boom lands with an audible thud, rather than a true, jaw-rattling BOOM.
Cast: Kevin James, Salma Hayek, Henry Winkler, Charice, Bas Rutten
Director: Frank Coraci
Plot: As budget constraints threaten fellow teacher Marty Streb’s music program, lazy biology teacher Scott Voss embarks on a quest to save his friend’s job. Bereft of any well-thought-out ideas, Scott decides to moonlight as a mixed martial arts fighter. What could possibly go wrong?
Running Time: 105 minutes
BBFC Certificate: 12
Country of Origin: USA
Release Date (DVD/Blu-ray): 18 March, 2013
Genre: Comedy, Action