Rather than a well-rounded character or a solid story, it’s likely that Here Comes the Boom was inspired more by the sight of the portly Kevin James in a mixed-martial arts cage.
That sketchy concept yields some modest laughs in this would-be inspirational comedy that coasts for a while on the affable screen presence of James before falling victim to its complete lack of logic and narrative coherence.
Many of Adam Sandler’s frequent collaborators are at work here, including James (Zookeeper) and director Frank Coraci (The Waterboy), and while this effort isn’t as obnoxious as the average Sandler effort, it’s not exactly heartfelt either.
Essentially, the movie is a standard sports underdog tale set in the increasingly popular world of MMA (and including many of the sport’s personalities). James plays Scott, a former wrestler and frustrated middle-school biology teacher who becomes motivated when budget cuts threaten the school’s music program and its dedicated teacher (Henry Winkler).
In a desperate attempt to raise the money, Scott enlists the help of a Dutch trainer in his citizenship class (Bas Rutten) to begin preparing for MMA fights, in the hope that he can earn enough money by losing professional fights to quickly save the music program.
The script, written by James and Allan Loeb (The Dilemma), makes a half-hearted plea to address the issue of arts funding in public schools without presenting any problems or solutions that are grounded in reality.
The extreme degree to which the story is exaggerated decreases any intended emotional impact. A tossed-off romantic subplot involving the school nurse (Salma Hayek) doesn’t help matters. Instead, moviegoers are left with a handful of amusing throwaway one-liners and quirky supporting characters.
The film’s title comes from a song by the rock group P.O.D. that should probably serve as the entrance music for every MMA fighter. I suppose it makes more sense than “Holly Holy,” the 1969 Neil Diamond hit that is remixed in the film to comic effect in both hip-hop and pop versions.
There are a few low-brow elements (sequences involving vomit and a food fight play key roles), but mostly Here Comes the Boom is innocuous and predictable silliness that at least is preferable to a kick to the groin.
Rated PG, 104 minutes.