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Here Comes the Boom DVD Review

Here Comes the Boom (2012) movie poster Here Comes the Boom

Theatrical Release: October 12, 2012 / Running Time: 105 Minutes / Rating: PG

Director: Frank Coraci / Writers: Allan Loeb, Kevin James

Cast: Kevin James (Scott Voss), Salma Hayek (Bella Flores), Henry Winkler (Marty Streb), Greg Germann (Principal Betcher), Joe Rogan (Himself), Gary Valentine (Eric Voss), Charice (Malia De La Cruz), Bas Rutten (Niko), Reggie Lee (Mr. De La Cruz), Mark DellaGrotte (Himself), Mookie Barker (Assistant Principal Elkins), Jackie Flynn (Joe Duffy), Nikki Tyler-Flynn (Molie Streb), Melissa Peterman (Lauren Voss), Thomas Gallagher (Peter Voss), Blaine Stevens (Mary Shannon Voss), Jonathan Michael Trautmann (Derrick), Germaine De Leon (Martinez), Steven Ritchie (Brian), Shelley Desai (Miguel), Earnestine Phillips (Muba)

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Essentially, Here Comes the Boom is the esteemed 2011 drama Warrior remade as a PG-rated Happy Madison comedy.
Naturally, Adam Sandler's currently most marketable friend Kevin James fills the lead role. He plays a husky variation of Joel Edgerton's character: a high school science teacher looking to raise cash who begins moonlighting as a mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter. The parallels end there (there's no alcoholic estranged father into books on tape), in favor of a mild, family-friendly dose of Sandler comedy, complete with his frequent co-star Henry Winkler and Grown Ups' Salma Hayek in focal roles.

Before you cry "plagiarism", you should know that Boom began filming back in March 2011, six months before Warrior opened (but two years after it was shot). Kevin James co-wrote the screenplay with Allan Loeb, a scribe who has kept busy in the last few years on scripts as varied as 21, Rock of Ages, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, and Sandler's Just Go With It.

Scott Voss (Kevin James) isn't so sure about the training methods of his citizenship student Niko (Bas Rutten). Henry Winkler plays Mr. Marty Streb, the music teacher who inspires Scott's MMA career.

James plays Scott Voss, a good-natured if not so passionate biology teacher in Hyde Park, Massachusetts. Scott is one of many who look up to the school's saintly longtime music teacher Marty Streb (Winkler), who after another day of inspiring his pupils, reveals to Scott that he and his 48-year-old wife are suddenly facing an entirely unplanned pregnancy. The timing could not be worse then for the school's principal (Greg Germann) to announce plans to cut the music program and put Mr. Streb out of a job at the end of the school year.

Unwilling to stand for that, Scott vows to raise the $48,000 needed. Since helping immigrants become citizens in night classes isn't cutting it, Scott comes up with the idea to make serious money in mixed martial arts. A Dutch night student (former UFC heavyweight champion Bas Rutten) reluctantly agrees to train Scott, who wrestled in college, starting with some low-paying cage fights.

Though he gets some flak from the administration, Scott's call to action also receives encouragement from school nurse Bella Flores (Hayek), who has turned down date requests from him more than a dozen times. Scott's story even gets notice from the UFC in the form of commentator Joe Rogan (James' Zookeeper adversary, playing himself), who lets him fill in for a last-minute dropout at a major event at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Tending to Scott's battle wounds is school nurse and love interest Bella Flores (Salma Hayek). Scott (Kevin James), Niko (Bas Rutten), and Marty (Henry Winkler) have a situation on their hands, when forgotten oatmeal gets replaced by warm homemade apple sauce.

Boom tones down many of the hallmarks of a Happy Madison film. There are hardly any recognizable celebrity cameos. The film isn't filled with songs from Sandler's adolescence (though Neil Diamond's "Holly Holy" becomes Scott's unlikely anthem, after another fighter takes the P.O.D. song from which the film gets its title). There is minimal crudeness. In fact, there is less comedy than you would expect.
That isn't a crack at the film's sense of humor, either; the jokes take a backseat to a fairly sincere and sweet story. The most telling precedent for this may be the movies of Frank Capra, sentimental, light-hearted fare that some derided as "Capra-corn."

Don't read too much into that comparison: people will not be studying and celebrating Here Comes the Boom seventy years from now, the way they currently do masterpieces like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and You Can't Take It With You. But Sandler has shown an affinity for Capra-style comedy beyond his remake Mr. Deeds. The spirit and humanity that distinguishes Capra's works usually gets diluted in the company of Sandler's vulgar gags, surreal touches, product placement and 1970s needle drops. Boom largely backs away from those, settling for one gross-out vomit scene and lingering on one interesting-looking cast member (played not by Rob Schneider in make-up, but Indian-American actor Shelly Desai).

If, like me, you are not an MMA fan, you'll probably miss some of those often comedic touches and the star power that gravitates to Sandler himself. The film climaxes with an overlong final fight, the stakes of which are contrivedly raised at the last minute. There are some brief, but regrettably glaring uses of digital head replacement in these scenes, as James' head is pasted on someone apparently more skilled at MMA to do battle with a fictitious fighter (played by real UFC light heavyweight Krzysztof Soszynski).

You do not expect a surprise ending, nor should you. But if not extremely entertaining, the film is rather harmless. James is easy to like. Winkler is always appealing and Sandler deserves credit for giving him more to do than TV movies for the geriatric sect. Hayek's accent seems to be getting thicker, but at least the obligatory improbable (largely sparkless) romance gets minimal screentime, as does the film's social commentary on public education and the importance of arts funding.

After two lucrative team-ups with Sandler, in between which there was the solo surprise smash hit Paul Blart: Mall Cop, James seemed to be as big of a draw as Sandler himself. His subsequent efforts have proved otherwise, with the Ron Howard-directed, Vince Vaughn-co-starring The Dilemma, the summer talking animal family comedy tentpole Zookeeper, and now Boom all falling short of expectations. Opening in just fifth place despite claiming 3,000 theaters, Boom grossed a disappointing $45 million on a $42 M budget. In retrospect, this does seem like a strange movie to debut in the middle of the fall, a season reserved for serious dramas. James seems poised to rebound, financially if not critically, by rejoining Sandler (and friends) for his first sequel to date, July's Grown Ups 2.

In the meantime, on Tuesday, Sony brings Boom to DVD and Blu-ray, where it should attract some attention.

Here Comes the Boom DVD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com DVD Details

1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French, Spanish, Thai)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, Cantonese, Chinese Traditional, French, Korean, Spanish, Thai
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: February 5, 2013
Suggested Retail Price: $30.99
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Black Keepcase
Also available on Blu-ray Disc ($35.99 SRP) and Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Sony produces many of the best-looking transfers out there, but perhaps they've started slacking when it comes to DVD. Here Comes the Boom's 1.85:1 anamorphic presentation boasts a clean element, but dark colors. Director Frank Coraci isn't known for distinct color timing and this film just looks murky and drab here. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, on the other hand, is just fine, offering crisp and even recordings throughout.

Scott does some more science teaching in this deleted scene. Henry Winkler and Kevin James, two generations of sitcom stars, share a laugh in the "Gag-reel."

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

First and most substantial of the DVD's three bonus features is a collection of 18 deleted scenes (16:36).
They include brief, disposable moments, extensions, and variations, but nothing too notable.

A gag reel (titled "Gag-reel" by the menu) offers 2 minutes and 27 seconds of cast members cracking, cutting, and messing up, along with some hijinks by director Frank Coraci.

Finally, the slick, promotional featurette "Here Comes the Cast" (6:26) sings the praises of the actors, with comments and B-roll.

The disc opens with a Sony Entertainment Network ad, followed by trailers for Playing for Keeps and Hotel Transylvania. To those two trailers, the Previews menu adds ones for Premium Rush and Abel's Field. Here Comes the Boom's trailer does not come here.

The menu plays actiony clips with glass-shattering transitions. Inserts with codes for UltraViolet and Sony Rewards are found inside the standard black case.

"Here Comes the Boom" stars Kevin James as a biology teacher turned UFC fighter.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Here Comes the Boom is light on comedy, logic, and fun. There's probably a substantial overlap in the fanbases of Kevin James and mixed martial arts who think "this is a movie for me." But liking one or fewer of those just about ensures you won't be bowled over with entertainment. This isn't a film you'll hate, just soon forget after tolerating with minimal reaction. James has movie star potential; he just hasn't written or found good material since Paul Blart.

With average extras and an unspectacular transfer, this is a DVD you can expect to see in Big Lots' overflowing $3 bins probably within two years. You shouldn't be in any rush to see it before then or to spend any more than that on it.

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Related Reviews:
Kevin James: Zookeeper Paul Blart: Mall Cop Hotel Transylvania Grown Ups
Salma Hayek: RoadRacers Puss in Boots The Pirates! Band of Misfits The Faculty
Henry Winkler: Holes Happy Days: The Third Season An American Christmas Carol
Written by Allan Loeb: Just Go With It The Switch Rock of Ages 21 Things We Lost in the Fire
Produced by Adam Sandler: That's My Boy Bedtime Stories | Directed by Frank Coraci: Around the World in 80 Days
New: Seven Psychopaths Robot & Frank Celeste and Jesse Forever Flight Fat Kid Rules the World
Real Steel Rocky Thunderstruck Fred Claus The Fighter Sister Act & Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit

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Reviewed February 2, 2013.



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