YEP – It wasn’t up for any Oscars, and it owes a lot to the Rocky boxing movie formula, but Here Comes the Boom still scores big points for all the right reasons.
With the state of our public schools perpetually in the news and on the chopping block, it came as a nice surprise to sit down to a film that doesn’t attempt to place blame or lecture platitudes, but rather illustrate how far a little enthusiasm can take you.
The “King of Queens,” Kevin James, plays an underachieving sloth of a high school teacher who musters up the heart to champion a colleague (played with his usual earnest charm by Henry Winkler), who is being let go due to budget constraints. Having wrestled back in the day, James decides to go into the ring to earn enough money to pay the school board and cover Winkler’s music teaching salary.
Can’t take music away from the kids!
So, with that premise you might think this would be a film about the lack of fairness in our public school system. How we shortchange education whenever fiscal belt-tightening comes knocking. How teachers get the shaft.
This is a film about the importance of teachers striving to inspire rather than just phoning it in. About the importance of assimilation and American citizenship. About the value of the arts in our schools, even when it doesn’t seem practical to the cold bottom line.
Pretty good themes for an Adam Sandler produced, Kevin James ultimate fighting comedy. Shockingly, there is a refreshing lack of scatological, low brow, crotch joke nonsense in Here Comes the Boom. It’s actually quite wholesome.
And that’s a good thing.
Director Frank Coraci, who also directed Sandler’s The Wedding Singer and Click, has a nice touch. Although I thought an opportunity was missed after the fight scene climax for James to cry out “Adrian!”
In fact, the love story is probably the only thing that doesn’t work in the film.
Salma Hayek plays a fellow teacher who finally gives in to James’ relentless flirtations and joins in on the campaign to save Winkler’s job; but the combination of her weak performance and their lack of real chemistry ultimately sinks their romantic arc.
A minor complaint in an otherwise surprisingly smart and undeniably well-intended light comedy.