It's another week, and home video shelves are bringing the thunder with a brand new slate of releases for our enjoyment. Out today on DVD & Blu-Ray, is a film that matches the fight inside the cage to the one inside the classroom and takes advantage of the rising popularity of the sort of mixed martial arts.
Directed by Frank Coraci
In “Here Comes the Boom” we meet former collegiate wrestler, Scott Voss (James) a 42-year-old apathetic biology teacher in a failing high school. When cutbacks threaten to cancel the music program and lay off its teacher Scott begins to raise money by moonlighting as a mixed martial arts fighter. Everyone thinks Scott is crazy; most of all the school nurse, Bella (Hayek) but in his quest to save the music department, Scott gains more then he could have ever hoped for as his journey to his friends job and win the girl takes him to the biggest stage in North American for Mixed Martial Arts as he steps on to the big stage in Las Vegas to fight for the UFC.
In the spirit of complete honesty I’ve got to come clean, going in to “Here Comes the Boom” my expectations were astonishingly low. However that being said this was a fairly accessible, sweet and only occasionally raunchy goofball of a comedy that despite delivering a bit of a clichéd message still delivers for an audience. Director Frank Coraci best known for his cinematic outings with Adam Sandler in films like “The Wedding Singer” and “Click” or with James (who also co-wrote the script) in last year’s “Zookeeper” tells a solid story that doesn’t deviate from the fight film/troubled school genres that it is borrowing from and despite a first act that was a little overlong and a relatively clunky ending you get invested in these stereotypical yet still well defined characters and their struggles along with their highs and their lows fairly quickly. Full cooperation with the Mixed Martial Arts community gave the film a certain level of legitimacy to it as a variety of stars from the past and the present of the Ultimate Fighting Championships actually made appearances but never detracted from the point that the movie was actually making, stressing the importance of going after your dreams no matter your age and the need to rediscover your passion no matter your age or your station in life. While it will never be considered a film where anyone took any big acting leaps, risks or stretched themselves beyond their natural abilities, the ensemble had enough natural chemistry together to make it enjoyable.
Kevin James as our loveable hero Scott Voss trying to save his school music program, win the heart of the school nurse and rediscover his passion for teaching all at the same time is admittedly a little too Hollywood cutesy, but the prate falls and general buffoonery were kept to a shocking minimum. Salma Hayek still has more than enough left in the tank to play the sexy yet idealistic school nurse and was refreshingly age appropriate for the part with an underrated sense of comedic timing. Henry Winkler’s clueless yet heartwarming music teacher Marty Streb practically saved the first act of the film that took a little too long to get going, but Winkler still knows how to make people laugh in the right role. Surprisingly, two of the legitimate scene stealers in the film that people will walk away remembering are relative young newcomer Charice as his musically gifted student Malia and MMA veteran. While Charice was admittedly there for her musical chops, which I won’t spoil but there is a nice all be it clichéd moment towards the end and MMA veteran Bas Rutten as James’ trainer Niko. In many instances in the film, James was actually playing the straight man part allowing Bas Rutten to vamp and ham it up where necessary and it works surprisingly well.
The picture and sound quality on the Blu-Ray were first rate and the special features on the Blu-Ray included deleted scenes, gag reel, a cast featurette and 5 behind the scenes featurettes that introduce us to the fights, the fighters and the detail that went in to making this as realistic of a fighting film as possible.
There’s nothing about “Here Comes the Boom” that honestly reinvents or even brings anything all that fresh to our cinematic palettes, but if you are the mood for a few laughs along with a few heartfelt moments this is a fun movie where all it requires of its audience is to have a good time.
3 out of 5 stars.