Here Comes The "Thud"

“Here Comes The Boom” is everything you’d expect it to be, and if that sounds appealing, knock yourself out. In this tacky “Stand And Deliver” meets “Rocky” hybrid, logic isn’t even a word, let alone a concern of the filmmakers. Like last month’s “Hotel Transylvania,” this is an Adam Sandler production, but unlike that film, the Sandler-isms are in full swing here. It’s bursting with zany foreign characters, unearned heartfelt moments, and bizarre asides featuring – yes – Henry Winkler. Yet, star Kevin James remains likable enough that the film hits most of its targets, no matter how lowbrow they might be.

Make no mistake, this is a family film that never swerves too far from its PG course. The MMA (mixed martial arts) material is hard hitting, but there’s no back alley brawling here – it’s all organized fighting. James stars as Scott Voss, a high school teacher with a passion for his job and his students. When a fellow faculty member, Marty (Winkler), and his department come under budgetary scrutiny, Voss goes to great lengths to help a friend in need. Of course, this means he decides to fight (read: get beat up) for money. There’s obviously no other way to raise money for a music department.

If your implausibility meter hasn’t gone off yet, the film establishes that Voss has never fought MMA, nor has he done much of anything since wrestling in high school. His first fight is a deluge of silly sight gags, from his ridiculous Viking-esque headgear to his inability to take a single punch. It’s weird to watch a grown man mistake an MMA fight for a WWE match, but even weirder to watch an elderly Fonzie coach him from ringside. The first fight also marks the arrival of the title song, “Boom,” from yesteryear’s nu-metalers, P.O.D. If you were hoping to escape the film without hearing it ad nauseam, I’ve got some bad news…

Other story elements include Voss’ brother (Kevin James’ real-life sibling), a particularly talented student of Marty’s (Charice, of “Glee” fame), and one of the aforementioned foreign characters (Voss teaches an American citizenship class on the side), Niko (MMA fighter, Bas Rutten), who ultimately trains his teacher in the ways of mixed martial arts. None of these throughlines adds much to the narrative, but Niko is occasionally entertaining. Charice’s character makes repeated failed attempts to tug at the audience’s heartstrings, while Salma Hayek, as a love interest and fellow teacher of Voss, fares the best of all the supporting characters. But, her screentime and impact is minimal.

Your level of tolerance for Kevin James and P.O.D. should successfully forecast your reaction to the film. The picture doesn’t have anything on its mind, but it’s not as offensively bad as something like the 2010 Sandler/James comedy “Grown-Ups.” If you’re an MMA fan, there’s enough fighting here to keep your attention and if for some reason you’re an avid Henry Winkler devotee, he’s in much of the film. The most surreal scene in the movie is his acoustic performance of “Boom,” and it’s a “Dear God, what am I watching?” kind of moment. “Here Comes The Boom” isn’t good by any means, but it’s worth a few laughs (the biggest is thanks to a Neil Diamond song) and Kevin James is his usual, affable, bland self.

-J. Olson

Rating: ★★ out of ★★★★★ (Not So Good)

Release Date: October 12, 2012
Studio: Columbia Pictures (Sony)
Director: Frank Coraci
Screenwriter: Allan Loeb, Kevin James
Starring: Kevin James, Salma Hayek, Henry Winkler
MPAA Rating: PG (for bouts of MMA sports violence, some rude humor and language)