Review: This Rapper Is 4Real (“PopStar: Never Stop Never Stopping”)

Combine This Is Spinal Tap, The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash, throw in a some Amy Schumer wild humor, and top it off with a dozen or more SNL actors, and you have this very wrong send-up mockumentary of the rise and fall of a highly successful white rapper named Conner Friel, aka Conner 4Real.
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Andy Samberg (of TV’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine) is already quite well known for his musical parodies on SNL (Lazy Sunday, D—k in a Box) with Chris Parnell and Justin Timberlake, so to see him co-write and co-produce this movie comes as no surprise. He plays a clueless megastar rapper that fans just can’t get enough of. His tweets, social media, and first album make him #1, a great thing for his entourage including: manager Harry (Tim Meadows) who handles all the damage control, publicist Paula (Sarah Silverman) who makes things runs smoothly, guitar roadie Zippy (Bill Hader), his personal chef (Timberlake), and 29 others

But before he went solo, Friel used to part of a successful rap trio called The Style Boyz with his childhood besties, Owen (Jorma Taccone) and Lawrence (Akiva Schaffer), but they had a serious falling out; now Owen is Friel’s stage DJ and Lawrence went off to Colorado to be a farmer and make terrible wood carvings. Tensions are still felt many years later; Owen feels inferior on stage and Lawrence never got due credit for his lyrics that garnished Friel a Pop Star Award.

The movie picks up at the zenith of Friel’s career when his second album, Connquest is about to drop with hopes that it’ll go gold, like his Humble album did. But without the creative input of his besties, his record sales plummet along with some disastrous staging ideas (magic tricks, a bizarre Daft Punk-like helmet for Owen to wear). To beef up his sagging image, Harry gets hot new rapper, crazy Hunter the Hungry (Chris Redd) to open for Friel and it works. . .only it works too well. Hunter proves to be a better draw than Friel and that sets his life on a downward spiral that even a marriage proposal to his girlfriend (Imogen Poots) can’t save.

Owen realizes his BFF is in trouble and tries to negotiate a tricky reunion with Lawrence and Friel, trying to bring about some sort of happy reconciliation between the pair, but Friel is too far gone into himself. His fans are leaving him, TV show CMZ (a nightmarish version of TMZ hosted by Will Arnett) crucifies him, and he fires Harry for not believing in him. Sad, alone, and hitting rock bottom, will Friel see the light in the end?

There are very funny interviews with real people from 50 Cent to Usher to Carrie Underwood to Simon Cowell all giving their opinions on Friel and how his career affected their lives. There are scenes of pure madness (like the marriage proposal with singer Seal and a pack of wolves) where I just lost it and scenes of cringing LOL ickyness (autographing a certain body part) that you will NEVER forget, I guarantee you!

Written by Samberg and co-written by directors Taccone and Schaffer, this movie is your A-typical rise/fall/rise again paint-by-the-numbers story you’ve seen before, but you have such weird scenes and wild and unpredictable scenarios, that you never know what’s coming next. One thing is for sure, Samberg is anything but boring; he’s like Adam Sandler back when Adam was funny and likable. The stadium scenes where Samberg raps are truly impressive. Staging the massive concert is stunning, with outrageously moronic and utterly stupid rap lyrics (“F–k me like Bin Laden!“) which, when you think of it, are just like real rap lyrics.

And OH! The cameos! Samberg must’ve pulled in alot of favors to get Ringo Starr, Pink, Weird Al Yankovic, Jimmy Fallon, RZA, Danger Mouse, Questlove, Snoop Dogg, and SO many others to show up and just rattle off stuff about a non-existent rapper that either influenced their lives or helped their careers. Reminded me of Mick Jagger talking about The Rutles and how much they influenced The Rolling Stones. Very funny stuff!

This Is Spinal Tap (1984)

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Without a doubt, the funniest fake documentaries (a mockumentary) ever made was this brilliant movie. Done by nearly all improved lines, a steady cam following the actors, and a director playing the director who’s playing the director! AND to top it all off, the actors playing the rock musicians are actually playing the catchy songs!
 
Satirizing groups like the Rolling Stones, AC/DC, and all those “hair” bands of the 80’s, the movie opens with an English hard rock band called Spinal Tap, coming here to kick off their American tour and promote their latest album, Smell The Glove. The band members are leader David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean), his dim-bulb childhood friend, Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest), pipe-smoking and cool-headed bassist Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer), keyboardist Viv Savage (David Kaff), and drummer Mick Shrimpton (R. J. Parnell). The director of this documentary is Marty DiBergi (Rob Reiner), who interviews the band mates and their tour manager, Ian Faith (Tony Hendra).
 
We get a glimpse of band life with band members bickering, tour rehearsals, show cancellations, poor record sales, bad critic reviews, and interviews with each band member about their life. Nigel talking about his many unplayed guitars and his special amp’s that “go to 11” is the highlight of these, while the mysterious Spinal Tap curse that has all their drummers die on stage is brought up. Tensions mount as stage prop sizes are misconstrued (a Stonehenge prop is way too small) and their album comes out and the cover is solid black. Then, just like the Beatles, David’s manipulating girlfriend Jeanine (June Chadwick) arrives, and Ian quits as their manager. Then afterwards, Nigel calls it quits.
 
You witness the deterioration of the band as you see them go from playing giant packed stadium houses to a few people at a theme park. Jeanine has taken over as manager, much to David’s chagrin, and it seems the band is about to become history. BUT! Salvation arrives when, as they’re doing their last gig, Nigel shows up with news: their song, Sex Farm, is #1 in Japan and a tour is imminent IF Ian is back on board as manager and Nigel can re-join the band. David is ecstatic, Mick blows up on stage, and Spinal Tap is a huge hit in Japan with Ian back in charge again.
 
The script (what script?) is by the actors themselves, who pretty much make up everything you see on the screen. It’s wildly entertaining and unimaginably hilarious to watch as many of the reactions are real and genuine, since the lines aren’t scripted. Oh, and the cameos! Billy Crystal, Bruno Kirby, Patrick MacNee, Fran Drescher, Dana Carvey, Ed Begley, jr, Paul Schaffer, Angelica Huston, and many more!
 
This movie was so real to some, that many rock stars (Ozzy Osborne, Dee Snider, Robert Plant) thought of suing because they thought the movie was making fun of them! In fact, many scenes depicted were taken from the actual stories lifted from rock ‘n’ roll roadies. And let’s not forget the music! Big Bottom, Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight, Hell Hole, and Heavy Duty are some of the kick-ass songs played by the guys themselves. . .no lip-syncing or fake playing here! Impressive! Spinal Tap (the actors playing their characters) even went on a real-life tour, having a guest drummer “die” at the end of every show! 

So popular was this type of film (all improv), that Christopher Guest started a trend in movies that relied on virtually no script. Movies like Waiting for Guffman, Best In Show, A Mighty Wind, and For Your Consideration all had that same formula. Of these, only Waiting for Guffman and Best In Show are really worth watching.

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