Here Comes the Boom
Time Out says
Dir. Frank Coraci (2012, 105 mins). Cast: Kevin James, Salma Hayek, Henry Winkler, Bas Rutten. Opens now.
If a comedian can be said to have a signature move, falling down is clearly Kevin James’s. Not since the heyday of Chris Farley has a funnyman built so much of his shtick around face-plants. To that end, Here Comes the Boom would seem to be the ideal vehicle for the onetime King of Queens. James stars as a middle-aged biology teacher who, in an attempt to raise about 50 grand to save his school’s elective programs, begins competing in low-level ultimate-fighting events. Amused by the slapstick shenanigans of the actor’s mall cop or zookeeper? Wait until you see his pudgy educator slip and slide through a rainy cage match or vomit applesauce over one of his opponents.
There are plenty of fat-guy pratfalls here to appease the America’s Funniest Home Videos crowd. Yet for all its broad physical comedy, Here Comes the Boom is a sweeter and less juvenile confection than Paul Blart—largely because James is playing an actual adult, not a buffoonish manchild. Everything about the Warrior-for-laughs plot, from our hero’s rise through the ranks to his romance with a fellow teacher (Salma Hayek), is as preordained as a pro-wrestling match. What modest charm Boom musters comes from its spirit of cornball camaraderie; James gets ringside comic assistance from Henry Winkler (as an inspirational instructor) and real-life UFC veteran Bas Rutten. Maybe we’re just awarding points for effort, but coming from a guy whose last gig had him trading verses with a rapping gorilla, this practically feels like a knockout. A.A. Dowd