Here Comes the Boom This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

October 31, 2012
In “Here Comes the Boom,” Scott Voss (Kevin James) is a high school science teacher who has lost the motivation to teach. A decade has passed since he was awarded educator of the year. But that might as well have been a lifetime ago.

His motivation is reignited, however, when the school announces severe cutbacks, including axing the entire music department where Marty (perhaps the kindest man in the world, played by Henry Winkler) is employed. After some heated discussions with the cash-strapped administrators, Voss and school nurse Bella Flores (Salma Hayek) decide to try to raise the money to keep the vital music program.

Their idea? Scott, a wrestler in high school, takes up mixed-marital arts in hopes of becoming a UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) fighter. Marty receives some much-needed help with this unquestionably ludicrous plan from Niko (Bas Rutten), a former mixed martial arts fighter. The UFC veteran provides combat lessons and moral support, while Voss helps Niko prepare for his U.S. citizenship test.

In an attempt to save his fellow teachers' jobs, Scott repeatedly puts his life in danger. Match after match, punch after punch, the tubby biology teacher takes brutal beatings (strangely, he never seems to sustain more than a few bruises, even after getting his head pounded in). But the film loses most of its credibility when it shifts its tone from “Dead Poets Society” to “Rocky.”

The mere idea of Scott, at the age of 42, attempting to compete against prime fighters is mind-numbingly insane and downright laughable to watch. Even as Voss, Niko, and Marty grow closer through a series of road trips to various UFC venues, the film lacks concentration.

Ultimately the movie's goal is to provide a healthy reminder that education matters, and that going the extra mile to preserve the arts can make a difference. Unfortunately, the desired ­destination is never reached.

Kevin James's real life persona, which I will attest to actually being quite fond of, gets in the way of the material. It doesn't help that his obvious and unfunny humor is exacerbated by a screenplay unwilling to let the audience feel for its characters.

Director Frank Coraci and James drive home the point that teachers are supposed to educate and inspire their idealistic and naive students. However, it's not enough to simply be on the morally correct side of an issue. Of course we know that when it comes to cutbacks in education, the arts are the first to go. It's sad that the education system is changing gears from cultivating talent to prepping for standardized tests. Drama, theater, music, and film add a healthy respite to a school day.

“Here Comes the Boom” is riddled with sequences designed to move the audience. Unfortunately, a majority are countered with jabs of trite screenwriting and achingly painful predictability. For ­example, the climax should be a straight knockout of ­devastating pathos and joyous inspiration, but it's not. Sure, resolutions blossom. Lives are mended. Jobs are saved. The overall result is crowd-pleasing merriment for those willing to forgive the mediocrity of material lacking emotional punch or, well, the boom.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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