I really like Kevin James. I was a big fan of The King of Queens when it was on the air and I had high hopes for him when he made the transition to the big screen. Unfortunately for him and for us as his audience, his track record has been horrible so far. His first big break in movies was opposite Will Smith in the comedy Hitch. The film was a hit and gave James the clout to move forward. James followed up Hitch with a few voice acting gigs in animated films, but his live action films were bad after bad including I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, Paul Blart Mall Cop, Grown Ups, The Dilemma and Zookeeper. While some of these went on to good box office (Blart, Chuck and Larry, Grown Ups), they were all severely critically panned. So it’s unfortunate that Here Comes the Boom didn’t perform well as it is probably his best film to date.
Scott Voss (James) is a high school biology teacher. Ten years ago he won teacher of the year, but since then he has become disillusioned by the politics of education and given up. When an inspirational fellow teacher named Marty (Henry Winkler) becomes in danger of losing his job to budget cuts, Voss volunteers to raise the money to save Marty. He decides to fight in low level MMA fights using his wrestling background as his basis for competition. With the training help of a student from his Citizenship class (Bas Rutten), Voss puts it all on the line for a fellow teacher and rediscovers his passion for teaching at the same time.
Here Comes the Boom may not be full of originality, but it is full of heart. Co-Written by James, who has been an MMA fan for years and has even trained with many known fighters, Boom is a very funny, very endearing underdog story that works on every level. Filled with real MMA talent and personalities, Boom feels authentic even when the story is outrageous. James is at his best here playing a humble everyman, which is what he really plays best. He is likable, funny and relatable, and that really makes the film work. And I can’t forget to mention the inspired inclusion of Henry Winkler in the cast, whose performance reminds us why we all loved him in the first place. Lastly, Bas Rutten, real fighter and close friend of James, is unrelentingly funny here. I hope other filmmakers take note, I think he could really have a solid comedy career, it seems to come very naturally to him and his chemistry with James was undeniable. A solid cast (let’s not forget the always lovely Salma Hayek), a heartwarming story and a great sense of humor makes Here Comes the Boom easily the best Kevin James film to date.
Available on Blu-ray and DVD February 5, 2013.