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HERE COMES THE BOOM Review - Kevin James is the most cuddly mixed martial arts fighter imaginable in sentimental film

 Comment on HERE COMES THE BOOM Review - Kevin James is the most cuddly mixed martial arts fighter imaginable in sentimental film

Review of Frank Coraci's Here Comes The Boom

Kevin James takes a licking and keeps on ticking.

There’s that foul-mouthed teddy starring opposite Mark Wahlberg in the year’s best, sex-obsessed comedy Ted. Now, just in time to go to the cinema with your parents, arrives the full-grown teddy bear a.k.a. Kevin James in director Frank Coraci’s cuddly, feel-good comedy Here Comes the Boom.

James, still best known for his nine-year stint on the hit sitcom The King of Queens, plays Scott Voss, a Boston high school teacher who’s lost the spark for his job and continues to let down his school and his students. Without explanation, something clicks inside Scott when he learns that Marty Streb (Henry Winkler), the school’s dedicated music teacher, will soon lose his job due to budget cuts.

Reminiscing about his college wrestling days so many years ago, Scott starts competing in mixed martial arts fights and begins a hardcore training routine in order to gain higher profile matches and the bigger paydays that can save his friend’s teaching job. In the process, Scott also regains his passion for teaching if not his passion for life.

It’s worth noting that Here Comes the Boom is the latest comedy from Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions, the outfit behind a string of comedy stinkers from Jack and Jill to Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star.

This time, Coraci, a longtime member of Happy Madison Inc., pushes aside recent directing stumbles like Zookeeper with James and Click with Sandler and returns to the easygoing laughter of his best comedy to date, The Wedding Singer.

Granted, Here Comes the Boom does not match The Wedding Singer laugh for laugh but it does come close thanks to easygoing storytelling from James, Rock Reuben and Allan Loeb.

Much of the credit for the film’s likable spirit goes to Salma Hayek, who gives an easygoing performance as a pretty teacher who changes her opinion on Scott once he puts his neck on the line to help their school.

Henry Winkler, the film’s other sitcom star, going far back to Happy Days, makes a clownish companion to Scott as both his dedicated co-worker and bumbling ringside assistant. Bas Rutten brings plenty of good-natured gusto to the role of Scott’s trainer.

Still, the comic boom belongs to James and he puts his bod on the line for Here Comes the Boom.

More warm gooey filling than serious acting performance, James delivers all the silly, sentimentality necessary for keeping Here Comes the Boom on-track. More importantly, James plays the slapstick clown to perfection with bruising belly flops and center ring stumbles. The result is one of his better big-screen comedies, a film that helps one forget the stink of last year’s Zookeeper.

For the sake of a slapstick-induced laugh, James takes one for the team in Here Comes the Boom. He also takes one to the head, to the gut and to the back, over and over again. Basically, James takes a licking and keeps on ticking all for the purpose of laughs.

Comedy is hard, but the physical, mixed martial arts gags of Here Comes the Boom are particularly grueling. Luckily, James is willing to take one for the audience.

Distributor: Sony Pictures

Cast: Kevin James, Salma Hayek, Henry Winkler, Greg Germann, Joe Rogan, Gary Valentine, Charice, Bas Rutten and Reggie Lee

Director: Frank Coraci

Screenwriter: Kevin James, Rock Reuben and Allan Loeb

Cinematographer: Phil Meheux

Producers: Broken Road Productions, Columbia Pictures, Happy Madison Productions, Hey Eddie, Sony Pictures Entertainment

Running Time: 105 minutes

Rating: Rated PG

Release Date: October 12, 2012

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