Here Comes the Boom has a sweet sentimentality
Starring Kevin James, Henry Winkler, and Salma Hayek. Rated PG. Now playing
Personally, I don’t understand why they keep letting Kevin James make movies. Like a lot of sitcom actors who’ve made the transition to the big screen, his appeal starts to wear noticeably thin after 30 minutes. Clearly, Hollywood feels that James can be forced into the “likable big guy” mold of a John Candy or a Jackie Gleason. But I’ve always found him reliably bland.
That said, Here Comes the Boom is easily one of his more tolerable efforts. Thanks to Frank Coraci’s subdued direction, there are even a few moments that rise above the prescribed formula, an overtly sentimental mix that can best be described as Rocky meets Mr. Holland’s Opus.
James plays Scott Voss, a burned-out biology teacher who reads the sports section while his students work at their desks. Scott, a former teacher of the year, admires the boundless dedication of the school’s kindly music teacher, Marty Streb (Henry Winkler), who is the sort of educator who spends his free time repairing musical instruments so that he can pass them on to underprivileged students.
When the school administration threatens to cut the music program due to lack of funds, Scott takes drastic action. A former championship wrestler in college, he decides to raise money by becoming a mixed-martial-arts fighter. With the help of Streb and a trainer (Bas Rutten), Scott gets his on-the-job training in the ring. Unfortunately, he’s put on a few pounds over the years, so the climb from martial-arts obscurity isn’t exactly easy.
The bright side? Scott’s newfound enthusiasm earns him the grudging respect of the school nurse (Salma Hayek), a Latin hottie who has been rejecting his clumsy advances for years. What follows is entirely predictable on all counts, but James throws himself into the role with such abandon that you can’t help but admire his conviction.
Watch the trailer for Here Comes the Boom.