'Here Comes the Boom'
Like Michael Chiklis before him, the affable Kevin James is trying to transform his acting persona from oversized schlump to buff tough guy. "Boom" feels like a transition film, bridging from his roles as a tubby sad sack into God-knows-what. And watching it happen is as awkward as a blind date.
James has made his name, and his sizable paycheck by playing self-deprecating nice guys in slapstick comedies. And "Boom" was marketed as a continuation of that ilk. But just as when I try to serve whole wheat pasta to my kids and hope they don't notice if I cover it in enough tomato sauce, the cinematic subterfuge fails.
James shows off his slimmed down physique to the point of preening as he plays a burned-out teacher who decides to become a mixed martial arts fighter as a way to raise money for his school's music program. For unknown reasons, James eschews the tried-and-true jokes at his own expense and substitutes them with no humor whatsoever, which is awkward, given that the film is a comedy. And while the commercial plugs for the UFC are abundant, the humanity is scarce.
My hope is that this is an aberration and James sticks with what he's good at, or takes a two-year break to perfect his craft at the HB Studio and comes back as an actor changed from within, not just physically.
Parents who don't want their kids to see lots of fighting should stay away. Lax parents like me can redeem themselves by limiting viewing to those at least 8 years old. (PG: Bloodless violence, language and rude humor). 1 hours and 45 minutes.
Ratings (out of 4 stars):
Overall: 1½ stars
Kids: 2 stars
Teens: 2 stars
Adults: 1½ stars
Seniors: 1 star
Should you watch it? No -- lousy film mixed with even lousier comedy.
Richard Gere earns a measure of my respect for breaking out of his comfort zone by playing an unlikable Bernie Madoff type who is skating dangerously close to financial ruin while still living the New York financier high life. Things get dramatically more complicated for the slimy businessman when his mistress dies in a car crash and he becomes the prime suspect.
There are interesting pieces sprinkled throughout the film, with components of a good cop drama, a little bit of "Wall Street" and even the talented and beautiful (and sadly underutilized) Susan Sarandon as Geer's suffering wife.
What's missing are compelling characters. We dislike Gere, Sarandon doesn't get enough screen time to bond with, the mistress dies quickly and the cop is dirty. So I didn't want anyone to win, which for a movie is like watching a baseball game end in a tie.
OK for teens 13 years old and up, though the slow pace will likely have them reaching for their phones after the first 20 minutes. (R: Language, violence, drugs, sex). 1 hour and 47 minutes.
Ratings (out of 4 stars):
Overall: 2½ stars
Kids: 3 stars
Teens: 1½ stars
Adults: 2 stars
Seniors: 2 stars
Should you watch it? Yes -- so-so thriller not as good as an episode of "Law & Order."
J.B. Alderman lives in Piedmont and can be reached at email@example.com.