Review: Popstar 

The Biebers of the world are like a disease, and Popstar targets them like radiation therapy.

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Popstar puts its finger firmly on the computerized pulse of contemporary pop music. This is a cathartic satire — a much-needed roast of the celebrities currently driving the world mad.

The central character, Conner4Real (Andy Samberg), is like a Frankenstein monster mashed together from parts of several dickhead pop stars — Justin Bieber, Adam Levine and Macklemore, to name a few.

The first single we hear from Conner is a sharp, biting satire of Macklemore’s hit song “Same Love,” in which the rapper undermines the gay rights message by unnecessarily asserting his heterosexuality. “I’m not gay, but if I was, I’d want equal rights,” Conner sings in what is essentially the more honest version of Macklemore’s casually offensive lyrics. It’s a brilliant parody and a stinging dose of truth.

Popstar paints the current pop music scene as a world in which songs take a backseat to musicians’ personas and style triumphs over substance. It’s painfully clear that the lyrics of Conner’s songs don’t matter nearly as much as the shallow life he leads offstage. To the same degree that we obsess over Bieber’s new girlfriend or latest face tattoo, Conner’s fans watch with great anticipation as he shares every single facet of his silly existence, documenting every thought, movement and fart on Facebook, Instagram and all the other social media outlets we check far too often. (We’re just as guilty as Conner, the film suggests.)

The one criticism the film warrants is that it grows a bit bloated near the end, especially as Conner tries to reunite with the boy band that launched him into stardom — the Style Boyz. But maybe the bloated feel of this act is necessary, mirroring our own excessive indulgence in the music from our past.

Popstar may overstay its welcome a bit, but Samberg will keep your eyes glued to the screen. He’s a magnetic comedian and a genius when it comes to playing an idiot. What makes Conner so tragically hilarious is his inability to realize his music is horrible. Bad reviews fall on deaf ears. When Rolling Stone rates his sophomore solo album with a “shit emoji,” he can’t believe it. (Bieber seems similarly clueless when confronted with the cold, hard fact that people dislike him.)

In the same way that This Is Spinal Tap takes aim at ’80s hair bands, Popstar effectively shoots down the stars of today. It’s almost necessary — a film that makes us step back and question why we allow this sleazy world of pop decadence to thrive. (Just because something is popular doesn’t mean it’s good — or good for you.)

The best comedy is like medicine, curing us of some sickness in society. The Justin Biebers of the world are spreading like a disease, and Popstar targets them with the precision of radiation therapy. It’s so hilarious that it ultimately makes you a little grateful for no-talent assclowns like Bieber. Without them, this great comedy wouldn’t exist. 

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