Kevin James slaps on some gloves and steps into the UFC in the new MMA comedy Here Comes the Boom! But is it worth your time or another comedic dud? 411's Jeffrey Harris checks in with his full review!
Directed By: Frank Coraci Written By: Kevin James, Allan Loeb, and Rock Reuben Runtime: 105 minutes MPAA Rating: Rated PG
Scott Voss - Kevin James Bella Flores - Salma Hayek Marty - Henry Winkler Principal Betcher - Greg Germann Niko - Bas Rutten Malia de la Cruz - Charice Mr. de la Cruz - Reggie Lee Eric Voss - Gary Valentine Laurie Voss - Melissa Peterman Molie - Nikkie Tyler-Flynn Mark DellaGrotte - Himself Joe Rogan - Himself Mike Goldberg - Himself Bruce Buffer - Himself Jacob “Stitch” Duran - Himself Herb Dean - Himself ”Lucky” Patrick Murphy - Jason “Mayhem” Miller Ken Dietrich - Krzystof Soszynski
If you want to watch the best MMA-themed movie ever made, that one is still Warrior. Here Comes the Boom, a new comedy starring Kevin James about a school teacher who gets into MMA, is by no means Warrior, but it’s an entertaining movie in its own right. For years, it’s been disappointing to see any movies related to MMA have been mostly garbage or direct-to-video refuse you wouldn’t even get out at Redbox such as Never Surrender or Unrivaled. Redbelt was OK but extremely flawed and Mamet didn’t really understand how to shoot traditional MMA. Never Back Down was a goofy teen drama with a lame underground fight club subplot, but it at least showed that MMA can be shot in a narratively compelling fashion. Warrior was one of the best movies of last year and really the first step in some fashion to bring in MMA into a more legitimate narrative setting with actual acting talent and quality writing and direction. I think Here Comes the Boom while it’s not a tremendous, compelling drama I think can at least be credited for treating MMA fairly and not unlike other underdog sports comedies like say Major League.
The story centers on Kevin James as Scott Voss. Scott is a lazy high school biology teacher in his early 40’s. He’s coasting on his success of being selected Teacher of the Year ten years previously and has all but stopped caring about being invested in his job. Things take a turn for the worse when Scott’s friend and colleague, Marty (Winkler), the school’s music teacher is put on the chopping block by the school’s Principal Betcher (Germann) due to budget cuts. Marty’s a great music teacher and passionate about his students and music, not to mention his wife just got surprisingly pregnant again, so he can’t afford to lose his job at this point. Scott decides to take up the cause and raise the money to save Marty’s job, but none of the other faculty have the drive or interest to help out. Later on, Scott meets an eccentric Dutchman by the name of Niko (Rutten) who invites Scott to his house to help tutor him so he can pass American citizenship test. They watch the UFC fights together, and James seeing that he has an athletic background in division I collegiate wrestling thinks he can become a prize fighter in order to raise the money to save Marty’s job. Through his journey, Scott earns the respect of the school nurse Bella (Hayek), who Scott has a crush on, and actually gets the drive and passion he used to have as a teacher.
What’s admirable about the movie is how accurate it is regarding MMA. While one can’t really argue and call the movie “realistic,” it is fairly right on the money in capturing the spirit of starting at the bottom of the MMA scene and doing low, budget regional shows and working your way up. You can watch some YouTube videos and see fights not unlike the early environments Scott competes in where it looks like the ring is held together by glue and tape and the cage is made out of chicken wire.
The movie is also filled with real-life fighters and MMA industry personalities which makes it look and sound more authentic. There’s an especially awesome and ironically hilarious cameo by the greatest undefeated and undisputed UFC champion of all time. The UFC is actually presented in a similar fashion to the way you see it on PPV complete with Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg and Bruce Buffer doing the announcing. Rogan even throws one particularly hilarious reference in during a fight that I imagine most audiences seeing the movie will be scratching their heads over. Since Niko takes on Scott to help him with his MMA training, he brings him to real-life MMA fight trainer and coach, Mark DellaGrotte of Team Sityodtong.
Frank Coraci opts for a bit of a more grounded style than he used for the oftentimes zany sports comedy, Waterboy. The humor comes more out of the situations and James pratfalls in the cage or getting schooled by Niko and his training partners in the gym. Rutten is always a delight to watch with his wild charisma and energetic personality. In one sequence he goes almost seamlessly from teaching disco aerobics to MMA sparring and strips into a bicycle unitard to teach a disco spin class.
The 411: Here Comes the Boom is a fun, entertaining comedy and probably the first quality major comedy that actually features MMA. Kevin James and Frank Coraci makes this material work and give the movie a more grounded style their previous films. This isn't akin to Warrior but more along the lines of a sports comedy like Major League or Slap Shot.