10/11/12

Here Comes the Boom

Attention! Kevin James fans (and you are legion): this time he's a high- school biology teacher turned reluctant Mixed Martial Arts contestant in a frantic attempt to raise money for the music program in his financially strapped school. The lesson we take away is the value of perseverance, honesty and hard work.

We see:
  • Kevin James ("Zookeeper") is Scott Voss, a weary, uninspired high-school biology teacher. He was a college wrestler, but now just wants to put in his time. Oh yes, he also lusts after the school nurse. James seems to have successfully made the transition from TV's long-running The King of Queens to a movie career.
  • Salma Hayek ("Savages") is Bella Flores, the school nurse who insists that anyone who courts her shows respect and good manners. I love how she shoves that loudmouth MMA fan at the final bout! Hayek seems to alternate between light-hearted comedies and tough dramas.
  • Henry Winkler ("Royal Pains") is Marty Streb, the gentle music teacher who is devastated to learn that he will be unemployed when his music program is axed. Winkler is enjoying a full, rich actor's life, despite his iconic role years ago as The Fonz.
  • Greg Germann ("Ally McBeal" and lots of TV) is Mr. Belcher, the high-school principal who decides to discontinue the music pro- gram but keep the football team. Germann seems to specialize in characters who are morally compromised.
  • Gary Valentine ("Paul Blart: Mall Cop") is Marty Voss, our hero's brother. His passion is cooking, despite evidence to the contrary.... Mr. Valentine is a stand-up comic who has appeared in a number of Kevin James' projects; they're brothers, so it makes sense.
  • Reggie Lee ("Safe") is Mr. De La Cruz, the father of a high-school musician. He has a restaurant to run and wants his daughter to help. This is a nice change of pace for Mr. Lee: he often plays cold-blooded Asian killers!
  • Joe Rogan is a Mixed Martial Arts commentator and a stand-up comic who holds black belts and other achievements in martial arts, including a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He is one of many MMA competitors who appear in this movie.
To me, this film was notable for a couple of moments: 1) During an American studies evening class for immigrants studying for their citizenship, our hero pauses to allow the AA group in an adjacent classroom to complete their prayer; 2) Before his bout, our four guys form a circle, join hands and have a moment of silence. Both of these moments are unusual in their consideration for religious beliefs. I'm not a religious person, but I found on-screen respect for those who are, to be refreshing.

Despite the brutality of MMA bouts, our hero is a decent, kind and mildly selfish fellow, who matures as he embraces a purpose larger than himself. Not a bad thing.... (Spoiler Alert!) We get to enjoy a nice goose- bumpy clich├ęd happy ending!
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Here is a link to a preview:
http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi3803489561/
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