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Just about everyone knows someone who has been bullied, in ways big and small. Understandably, though, many victims are reluctant to speak about their experiences. We found some who aren't.
By Ellen Pham, tb-two* movie critic
Grade: **, 2/5 asterisks
Here Comes the Boom, a watered-down Rocky, generates sparse laughter and offers sub par acting. It lacks genuine box office appeal; it’s too cheesy for most teens and kids have better options with Frankenweenie and the upcoming Wreck-it Ralph. The plot unravels exactly the way the trailer implies with a cast who tries their hardest to make up for undeveloped characters and a limiting script.
Scott Voss (Kevin James) is your stereotypical unmotivated teacher. He comes in late
(usually through a window since the doors of the school are locked) and chooses to read the newspaper instead of paying attention to his students, simply going through the motions for a paycheck. Marty (Henry Winkler), the music teacher, is the complete opposite. He loves his job, does whatever it takes for his students to maximize their potential, even if it means fixing broken instruments for kids who can’t afford them, and his students adore him.
Trouble rises when the school faces budget cuts, which threatens the music program’s survival. Scott takes a stand and proposes the school raise the money after realizing how desperately Marty needs his job to help support his family. The plan garners little enthusiasm from faculty members considering how improbable raising $50,000 seems, but that doesn’t stop Scott from teaching immigrants how to pass the citizenship test to fund the cause. The new gig pays dirt compared to the 50 grand Scott needs, so he starts getting in shape after one of his citizenship students tells him the UFC pays a whopping amount of money to its fighters, even if they lose.
Bella Flores (Salma Hayek), a fellow teacher who plays Scott’s love interest, is an empty character; we don’t find out much about her, she doesn’t help move the plot along and her lines are shallower than a kiddie pool. Now, this isn’t to say Hayek didn’t give any effort – she did. But the dullness of Ms. Flores seeps through the screen no matter how exaggerated one’s facial expressions are. At least Hayek gives us something pretty to look at.
Henry Winkler makes a good Marty – maybe too good. At times, it can be hard to decipher whether Winkler is being so sprightly because of the scene or because he has to find something to do since his lines aren’t cutting it. Regardless, Marty brings a heartwarming touch in the midst of bloody cuts and roaring punches. The sole savior of Here Comes the Boom is Kevin James. His carefree, easily comical personality, on display in his previous work with Hitch and I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, makes it much easier to watch.
I have to commend Here Comes the Boom for keeping it PG. Aside from a few ambiguous fight scenes, it doesn’t delve into any mature issues beyond that, which qualifies it as a decent family movie. No bells and whistles here but the thought of not having to awkwardly sit through a romantic scene with your parents should be a relief.
Director: Frank Coraci
Cast: Kevin James, Salma Hayek and Henry Winkler
Running time: 105 minutes