You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Here Comes the Boom

Reuniting Everyman thesp Kevin James with "Zookeeper" director Frank Coraci, this "Rocky"-esque tale is a triumph of recycling, with James playing a biology teacher-turned-UFC fighter out to save his high school's music program.

Scott Voss - Kevin James
Bella Flores - Salma Hayek
Marty Streb - Henry Winkler
Principal Betcher - Greg Germann
As Himself - Joe Rogan
Eric Voss - Gary Valentine
Malia - Charice

Hands of stone meet heads of air in “Here Comes the Boom,” a sports story so daffy it may as well star Kevin James. Reuniting the Everyman thesp with “Zookeeper” director Frank Coraci, this “Rocky”-esque tale is a triumph of recycling, with James playing a biology teacher-turned-UFC fighter out to save his high school’s music program. The visibly buffed actor obviously trained for the role, and the onscreen violence adds a frisson of tension to the pic’s mix of grappling, romance and anemic social critique. Genial tone will help slip a half nelson on opening weekend B.O.; just-respectable numbers seem likely.

The screenplay, by James and Allan Loeb, wastes no time setting a comedic tone, and setting it low: Scott Voss (James), arriving late for school again and being caught by vinegary Principal Betcher (Greg Germann), teaches a class where the smartest student is Asian and the most disaffected is Hispanic. Immigrant humor resurfaces when Scott moonlights at a citizenship class, where wacky foreign students deliver less-than-hilarious bon mots and become entangled, theoretically, in the three branches of government.

Scott doesn’t inspire his students any more than his students inspire laughs, but he does get a lift out of the school orchestra, led by the benevolent gray-maned Marty Streb, whose portrayal by Henry Winkler is one of the film’s more refreshingly natural and engaging aspects. Salma Hayek is likewise engaging as Scott’s elusive romantic muse, Bella Flores, who patches Scott’s wrestling injuries as gracefully as she eludes his clutches.

The central conceit, that a husky biology teacher would not only survive but thrive as a fighter on the mixed-martial-arts circuit, makes “Star Wars” seem like a documentary. The very idea of Scott getting in the ring with someone like the steel-toothed Ken Dietrich (Krzysztof Soszynski) is too absurd to sell convincingly, and helmer Coraci doesn’t really try, although the various fights are staged with considerable veracity and no small amount of child-unfriendly violence. At the same time, the solemnity with which certain subjects are approached — the shortcomings of the school system, for instance, or the shortchanging of its students — doesn’t exactly incline “Here Comes the Boom” toward baggy-pants comedy. The overall tenor is clangorously discordant.

But the characters are likable, not just Marty and Bella but also Niko (Bas Rutten), the citizenship student who also happens to be an ex-fighter and trainer, and who helps Scott get his act in gear. Rutten, an ex-MMA type himself, is something of a gift to the movie, a bit of an overblown commodity but a memorable one, mixing physical menace and comedy in a way that positions him somewhere between Dwayne Johnson and Tor Johnson.

Real-life fight personalities pop up throughout the pic, including cut man Jacob “Stitch” Duran and announcers Bruce Buffer and Mike Goldberg. Not nearly enough attention is given to a vitriolic domestic sidebar featuring Scott’s brother, Eric (Gary Valentine), and his hellacious wife, Lauren (Melissa Peterman), who are flat-out funny. They might reasonably have taken some of the screentime devoted to Scott’s vomiting on one of his opponents (a moment that gets widely circulated on YouTube), or to the food fight that erupts in a hotel room and sends the movie into second-rate “Three Stooges” territory. Of course, given the serious subject matter, a little lightening up was probably in order.

Tech credits are first-rate, although Rupert Gregson-Williams’ music is used in rather ham-fisted fashion. But no one should approach “Here Comes the Boom” expecting subtlety.

Popular on Variety

Here Comes the Boom

Production: A Sony Pictures Entertainment release of a Columbia Pictures presentation of a Broken Road/Happy Madison/Hey Eddie production. Produced by Todd Garner, Kevin James. Executive producers, Adam Sandler, Jack Giarraputo, Jeff Sussman, Marty P. Ewing. Co-producers, Aimee Keen, Rock Reuben. Directed by Frank Coraci. Screenplay, Allan Loeb, Kevin James.

Crew: Camera (Deluxe color), Phil Meheux; editor, Scott Hill; music, Rupert Gregson-Williams; production designer, Perry Andelin Blake; art director, Alan Au; set designer, Simon Jones; set decorator, Denise Pizzini; costume designer, Hope Hanafin; sound (Dolby Digital/SDDS/Datasat), Anton Gold; supervising sound editors, Michael Hilkene, Odin Benitez; re-recording mixers, Tateum Kohut, Greg Orloff; special effects coordinator, Darrell D. Pritchett; visual effects supervisor, Peter G. Travers; visual effects producer, Christian Hejnal; visual effects, Zero VFX, Sony Pictures Imageworks, India, Uncharted Territory; stunt coordinator, Garrett Warren; associate producer, Gino Falsetto; second unit director, Warren; casting, Justine Baddeley, Kim Davis-Wagner. Reviewed at AMC Lincoln Square, New York, Oct. 9, 2012. MPAA Rating: PG. Running time: 104 MIN.

With: Scott Voss - Kevin James
Bella Flores - Salma Hayek
Marty Streb - Henry Winkler
Principal Betcher - Greg Germann
As Himself - Joe Rogan
Eric Voss - Gary Valentine
Malia - Charice
With: Bas Rutten, Reggie Lee, Melissa Peterman, Jacob "Stitch" Duran, Bruce Buffer, Mike Goldberg, Krzysztof Soszynski.

More Film

  • Incitement

    'Incitement' Wins Ophir Award for Best Picture, Becomes Israel's Oscar Submission

    “Incitement” was the best-picture winner at Israel’s Ophir Awards on Sunday night, automatically becoming the country’s choice to vie for the international feature film Oscar. The winning film, a drama about the period leading up to the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by a Jewish extremist in 1995, had its global premiere at [...]

  • LargoAI

    LargoAI Wins Inaugural San Sebastian Zinemaldia & Technology Startup Challenge

    SAN SEBASTIAN  —  Swiss artificial intelligence and data analytics company LargoAI won Sunday’s first-ever San Sebastian Film Festival Zinemaldia & Technology Startup Challenge. LargoAI’s software provides data-driven filmmaking strategies, similar to those used by major VOD platforms which aggregate and often horde their own user-driven data. From early in the screenwriting process through development and [...]


    FiGa Snags 'Contactado,' By The Team Behind San Sebastian Winner 'Pelo Malo' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Sandro Fiorin’s FiGa Films has picked up worldwide sales rights to “Contactado,” the upcoming feature by Sudaca Films’ Marité Ugás and Mariana Rondón, the duo behind San Sebastian 2013 Golden Shell winner, “Pelo Malo.” The Sudaca partners are attending San Sebastian to pitch Rondón-helmed project “Zafari” at the 8th Europe-Latin American Co-production Forum. Directed by [...]

  • Brad Pitt stars in “Ad Astra”.

    'Ad Astra' Lifts Above Competition at International Box Office With $26 Million

    Though “Ad Astra” was overthrown by the Crawley family at the domestic box office, Brad Pitt’s astronaut drama reigned supreme at the international box office. Directed by James Gray, “Ad Astra” launched overseas with $26 million from 44 foreign markets. The $80 million sci-fi epic debuted in North America with $19.2 million, bringing global box [...]

  • hugh jackman tiff bad education

    Toronto's Biggest Deal Goes to HBO: A Sign of the Future? (Column)

    When it comes to how we’ll be watching movies — or, at least, watching serious dramas for adults — in the future, here are two stark and timely contradictory facts: 1. Last week, as the Toronto International Film Festival drew to a close, a deal that had been in the rumor stage for a while [...]

  • 'Talking About Trees' Helmer Suhaib Gasmelbari

    'Talking About Trees' Director Suhaib Gasmelbari Receives Variety MENA Award

    Suhaib Gasmelbari, whose Sudanese documentary “Talking About Trees” premiered in the Berlinale’s Panorama section, received the Variety Middle East and North Africa Region Talent Award Saturday at the El Gouna Film Festival in Egypt from festival director Intishal Al Timimi. Variety critic Jay Weissberg, who selected the honoree, said that it is not usual that [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content