Passion. That's what Here Comes the Boom believes in: good people helping each other out because they want to can create an unstoppable force.
Of course, violence is a factor. And America. And the beauty of music. And vomit.
Hey, it's a Kevin James movie. It would be a far stranger proposition if a disgusting bodily function wasn't involved.
In what is sure to shock anyone reading this review, Here Comes the Boom is your prototypical underdog story that you see oh so often-- like, say, last week-- wherein one person stands up to the system and overcomes in the end. What's interesting about Boom is that it does its best to stack its ideological decks so neatly that it's hard to fault it for the cliches; it's a poor man's Rocky II, but for all intents and purposes it wants it that way.
What do I mean by that? Boom stars Mr. James as Scott Voss, a biology teacher who has comfortably settled into autopilot in the classroom. This is counterbalanced by his sort-of friend Marty Streb (Henry Winkler), a music teacher who will do anything for his students. When budget cuts threaten the music program, Voss stands up and volunteers to find the $50,000 needed to keep it. One of his friends carefully scoots away.
He tries a number of schemes including teaching night school to a cadre of immigrants seeking their citizenship, but money still seems far out of reach.
But then one of his students, Niko (Bass Rutten), gets Voss interested in UFC. That's right, someone saw last year's Warrior and decided to take half of it and make a Kevin James comedy. Hey, there've been worse plans. Oh, and Salma Hayek is in here as the cute nurse that James keeps pursuing.
If you've seen the trailer, you've probably seen at least a quarter of the jokes present in the actual movie. Not that Boom isn't a comedy, but it's aiming more towards smiles than laughs. The film cloaks itself in the warmth of a few safe ideas and uses them to hit some nice old notes: the beauty of music, how great being an American is, and that passion bit I mentioned before.
Scott starts off as a lousy teacher, but once he rediscovers his enthusiasm, he ditches his 'too cool for school' (literally) attitude and trades it in for honest work and teaching. James may be less funny here, but he's becoming a better actor. His Stand and Deliver bit of over-the-top teaching meshes well with his natural charisma, and while I never bought into him becoming a powerhouse fighter, he's game enough that it's easy to forgive.
What interests me most about the film (and there wasn't a whole lot else, I'm afraid) is the quiet and unspoken relationship between God, country, and beating the crap out of people. Voss actually prays before his bouts, and the final scene isn't of him saving the school but Niko finally becoming an American. Mind you, the reasons behind all of this involve our hero getting brutally beaten and serving the same thing in return.
So what Here Comes the Boom indicates is that you have to fight for want you want. As for me, I can admire a picture that aims at trying to put something pretty grand together, even if it falls short by becoming mired in tired romcom attitudes and a plethora of uninspired montages. I think it's an okay picture; unfortunately-- and ironically-- I just don't think their heart was in it.