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Capone reviews KEVIN JAMES GOES BOOM or MR. HOLLAND'S CONCUSSION or whatever the hell it's called!!!

Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here.

Now I'm going to say some things that might not make sense or you may not like (or both), but just know that I come from a good and pure place of trying to steer you toward the good and away from the bad. So when I tell you that the new Kevin James movie HERE COMES THE BOOM isn't that bad, you have to believe that I say it in the spirit of being true to my craft no matter how much James has burned me in the past. I was particularly dreading this movie because of director Frank Coraci's filmography, which includes James' god-awful ZOOKEEPER from last year, as well as the Adam Sandler flicks CLICK and THE WATERBOY, and the abysmal AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS. He also helmed Sandler's THE WEDDING SINGER, which is actually quite good.

But that doesn't mean anything when the plot of HERE COMES THE BOOM is about high school biology teacher and former college wrestler Scott Voss (James), who wants to save the school's music program by making money doing mixed martial arts in his off hours. At first he figures he can make enough money just by showing up and losing (not throwing the matches, but just fighting and getting plastered in the process).

But through a grand plot contrivance that is so dumb I won't even repeat it, he must win an actual televised championship match against an overqualified opponent. He has been training, so he's actually managed to win some matches along the way, but James looks kind of silly next to some of the men he's fighting against.

A part of me believes that James' recent personal commitment to getting in shape and losing weight inspired some studio guy to think, "Hey Kevin's in good shape, let's make a movie about that somehow." It's a stupid concept that occasionally works because they never play the matches for laughs (well, almost never). The film takes the sport seriously, even if James and Coraci can't resist making the rest of the film silly.

Henry Winkler is on hand playing the music teacher whose job Scott is essentially saving; he's not given much to do but cheer in Scott's corner, but it's always great seeing him around in anything. Less successful is Salma Hayek trying to be funny; I've seen childbirth videos that look like less effort. She plays the school nurse who Scott never stops asking out. But once he starts fighting and getting hurt, she starts to show an interest. What are we teaching our children, people?

I would never say James isn't a funny guy; he can be under the right circumstances, and these are the right ones about 50 percent of them time. But the film works best as a sports drama about a teacher who works hard, trains hard, does the work and becomes a contender. Is HERE COMES THE BOOM manipulative and hokey? Sure. What sports movie isn't? But it isn't offensively so, and that surprised me. Far from James' worst work, this film has its moments more often than it bored or angered me. The mildest of recommendations, but a recommendation nonetheless. That said, there are about a half-dozen, far superior movies you should see before this one. Once you've seen all of those, you can think about paying money for watching KEVIN JAMES GO BOOM.

-- Steve Prokopy
"Capone"
capone@aintitcool.com
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