'Here Comes The Boom'
Rated PG for bouts of sports violence, some rude humor and brief rough language.
"Here Comes the Boom" offers more pabulum for moviegoers who can't be bothered to chew even the softest food for thought, courtesy of Happy Madison Productions, the Gerber of motion picture companies. The movie is as devoid of surprise as a blank sheet of paper, but at least paper has an edge.
Likable Kevin James stars as slovenly Scott Voss, a Boston high school biology teacher and ex-wrestler who decides to become a mixed-martial arts fighter in hopes of raising the $48,000 needed to save the job of a beloved music teacher played by Henry Winkler, who is as cuddly here as the Fonz once was cool.
Directed by Frank Coraci, who last year guided James through the punishing "Zookeeper," the film should reassure anti-public education ideologues eager to cut funding for schools. Budget woes a problem? Just hold a bake sale, or, as seen here, send a teacher into the Ultimate Fighting Championship Octagon at the MGM Grand.
The bootstraps motif is reinforced by Scott's night job: He moonlights as an instructor of "citizenship classes" filled with upbeat future ethnic Americans.
"You gotta go after your dream," Scott says. "That's what we're supposed to do as teachers, right? Inspire," the music teacher affirms, as his colleague miraculously transforms himself from punching bag to underdog challenger. Hard to believe money is tight: The school band follows the teachers to Las Vegas, so a puppy-cute Filipina student (played by YouTube discovery Charice) can serenade the adults with a "Glee"-ful cover of Neil Diamond's "Holly Holy."
Also waiting at ringside is potential love interest Salma Hayek, as the school nurse. (To adapt an acronym from a famous rapper, do Ladies Love Kevin James? In "Zookeeper," his exotic inamorata was Rosario Dawson).
Like a cattle chute funneling beef toward the executioner's bolt pistol, the syrupy score by Rupert Gregson-Williams leaves the viewer no wiggle room for an alternative interpretation of the material. Adding to the agenda of uplift, the sneak preview I attended opened with something I'd never seen before: a taped introduction from the star. In this message, Kevin James told us how proud he was of this "very inspirational movie," and asked us to "please send a tweet with the hashtag #herecomestheboom." So far, the title isn't trending.