Here Comes The Boom

 

Directed by Frank Coraci. Starring Kevin James, Salma Hayek, Henry Winkler, Greg Germann, Joe Rogan, Gary Valentine 12A cert, general release, 104 min

KEVIN JAMES is back. Over the past few years the portly actor has emerged as the acceptable face of bad comedy. The films are rarely masterpieces – though Paul Bart: Mall Cop deserves rediscovery – but the Kev has a warmth that tends to distract from the creaky dialogue and mindless sight gags.

Here Comes the Boom begins as an anti-classic of the James genre. The star plays a disillusioned biology teacher who hatches a more than usually absurd plan to stop the music master – an irresistible Henry Winkler – from being cast out with the garbage. For no good reason other than the pressing demands of high-concept, Kevin elects to become a mixed- martial arts fighter. Even if he loses, the fees are so healthy he will, surely, earn enough money to finance the threatened music programme.

The banter at school is tolerable enough. Salma Hayek flatters Mr James by playing the reluctant love interest. Greg Germann (you’ll know him when you see him) offers reliable sleaze as the horrible principal. It’s Mr Holland’s Opus: The Low-Brow Comedy.

The picture goes weirdly, disturbingly off the rails when the hero ventures into the world of cage fighting. No previous family comedy has, surely, addressed this degree of gratuitous violence with such a jocular tone.

Reading (it seems) from a press release provided by the Ultimate Fighting Championship – whose logo is product-placed so promiscuously that even the current James Bond might balk – James explains that the sport is no more dangerous than boxing or autoracing. This may be true. But much of the final act involves the sort of behaviour you’d expect to encounter outside a Portadown pub at closing time.

Couldn’t Kevin have raised the money by selling hard drugs or trafficking underage women? The closing scenes would, under those circumstances, have seemed only marginally less peculiar.