In early fall good films are hard to come by as studios wait for the November and December months to make a push for the Academy Awards and other high-profile honors. However, the Kevin James comedy Here Comes the Boom provides a fun, family-friendly film that all can enjoy, laugh and root for.
Forty-two year-old biology teacher Scott Voss (James) has lost his will to teach. The former collegiate wrester and one-time teacher of the year is late for his classes, doesn't actually teach his students biology rather engages in the lost art of napping in class. At a faculty meeting budget cuts are announced that will eliminate the school's music program and its beloved teacher Marty Streb, brilliantly played by Harry Winkler. Hoping to win the affections of school nurse Bella Flores (Selma Hayek), Voss pledges to raise the money to keep the music program alive.
Believing that his best shot lies in competing in mixed martial arts, Voss begins to train with the help of Streb, Niko (Bas Rutten) and Mark DellaGrotte (playing himself) in the hopes of qualifying for a UFC fight where the payout for losing a fight is $10,000 and $50,000 for winning.
James, whose film credits include films like Hitch and TV credits include the King of Queens, adds to his comedic repertoire with this movie. Kudos should be paid to James, who co-wrote the script with Allan Loeb and Rock Reuben, on touching on a wide-range of themes. Audiences will have lots of talking points after the film, whether you want to discuss the theme of never giving up and continuing to fight, good teachers versus less competent teachers, the influence of music on kids and our culture or the struggles of immigrant families.
The movie has some fun little training montages, although not as great in scope as the Rocky films, the montages and more elaborate fight sequences towards the end of the film show James' commitment to the movie. The actor worked with trainers and fighters and changed his diet for more than a year prior to filming and it pays off in the movie as he shows his strength and agility.
The chemistry between James and Hayek is sweet and believable, but does not dominate the film. Winkler steals a few scenes throughout the movie as him and James had wonderful give and take chemistry on screen that will make audiences cheer for more. This film also marked the film debut of singer Charice, who shows the range of her beautiful voice. Playing the brilliant student Malia, she challenges James character to become a better teacher.
Here Comes the Boom is rated PG for mixed martial arts violence, some rude humor and language.