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.
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)
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!
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, onlyWaiting for Guffman and Best In Show are really worth watching.