By Mark Saldana

Rating: 2.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

The name Kevin James often strikes fear in the hearts of people who despise silly, dumb and ridiculous slapstick comedy.  I never watched Paul Blart: Mall Cop mainly because of hugely negative responses it received from critics. Zookeeper, which I did watch, left me quite flat. Grown Ups is a juvenile and sophomoric comedy, but I am one of the few critics who could tolerate it. So here we are with a new James comedy opening in theaters which I’m sure will attract his fans, but will turn off his detractors.  After watching Here Comes The Boom, I can honestly say that it’s not quite as bad as it looks, but it isn’t that great either.  For a Kevin James starring vehicle, Boom actually entertains, and the comedy doesn’t get too cheap or silly.  Actually, I did not find the humor insulting, but I did find the climax and resolution to be annoyingly ludicrous.

James portrays disenchanted biology teacher Scott Voss.  Unhappy with his profession and his students lack of interest, he’d rather let them do as they please in his classes while he catches some shut eye.  On the other end of the teaching spectrum, Marty Streb (Henry Winkler) not only teaches music, but inspires his students through this art form.  Voss, after witnessing Streb at work, becomes inspired to become more passionate about his teaching and have an impact on his students.  When extreme budget cuts threaten to shut down the music program, Voss, who wrestled in high school and college, decides to become a mixed martial arts fighter to raise the money the school needs to save the program and Streb’s job.

Written by James, Allen Loeb and Rock Reuben, and directed by Frank Coraci (ZOOKEEPER, CLICK), HERE COMES THE BOOM is another typical triumph over adversity story that follows the usual formula and brings little new to the cinema.  Now, I must give some credit to the writers for keeping the comedy watch-able and tolerable.  They never go too over-the-top silly or ridiculous.  So thankfully, I never felt frustrated with the humor in the film.  In fact, there are a good handful of genuinely funny moments with likable characters.  As I stated above, the climax and conclusion does get a bit ridiculous and insulting.  I believe that I muttered to myself, “oh, come on!” as I saw it play out before me.  Besides those issues, though, I can’t really pan too much else about the film.  The entire cast all perform adequately and never really grated on me.

James actually did not annoy me in this movie.  Though disillusioned, he comes across as a likable and charming regular guy who just happens to be a teacher, a teacher with an insane and unlikely idea for raising money.  Salma Hayek plays another amiable character, but does not have much to do in the film.  She portrays James’ paramour, the school nurse named Bella Flores.  I really enjoyed Bas Rutten who portrays Voss’ MMA trainer Niko.  He is given some hilarious comic material and runs with it quite well.  Another standout performance comes from Henry Winkler who plays the passionate, lovable, buy wimpy music teacher Marty Streb.

Now that I ponder it further, fans of James’ usual brand of comedy may not like this toned down character.  For those who abhor his usually silly antics, this role will probably come across as a relief, and breath of fresh air.  I cannot honestly say the same thing about the plot which offers the same old tired and usual underdog story.  I do not recommend this as a must see in the theater. I suggest waiting to see it as a rental.

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