“Here Comes the Boom”
Very Good (3 stars)
Rated PG for sports violence, crude humor and mild epithets.
Running time: 105 minutes
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Scott Voss (Kevin James) is a bored biology teacher at mythical Wilkinson High in Massachusetts, a cash-strapped school suffering from low morale. The apathetic slacker is part of the problem, as he sets a horrible example for his students, between stealing candy from vending machines and always arriving late for class.
During recess, the bored, 42-year-old bachelor makes a habit of flirting with the beautiful school nurse, Bella (Salma Hayek). However, she just as routinely rebuffs his advances with gentle reminders of how often she’s rejected each of his requests for a date.
The plot thickens the day Principal Betcher (Gregg German) assembles the faculty in the auditorium to announce his latest budgetary cutbacks. Those money-saving measures not only include plans to eliminate afterschool activities like the debate club and field trips but even the entire music program.
That means Scott’s colleague Marty Streb (Henry Winkler) will be callously laid-off right before earning tenure. And to add insult to injury, the dedicated music teacher’s firing comes at a time when his wife (Nikki Tyler-Flynn) is pregnant.
This dire state of affairs inspires Scott to prevail upon the principal to preserve his pal’s position. But Betcher says he simply doesn’t have the $48,000 to pay Marty.
Therefore, Scott, who hasn’t wrestled competitively since college, decides to raise the cash by moonlighting in the ring as a Mixed Martial Arts fighter. With the help of Marty and a retired kickboxing champ (Bas Rutten), he proceeds to whip himself into the best shape a middle-aged couch potato might hope for.
So unfolds “Here Comes the Boom,” a sweet-natured, overcoming-the-odds sports saga combining familiar elements of Rocky (1976) and Nacho Libre (2006). Directed by Frank Coraci (The Waterboy), the star vehicle showcases Kevin James’ comic genius at his best, whether he’s doing pratfalls in a mask and ill-fitting stretchy pants or futilely wooing the woman of his dreams.
The paint-by-numbers plot inexorably builds to a UFC-sanctioned showdown between Scott and an intimidating adversary (Krzysztof Soszynski) for a purse conveniently matching Marty’s salary. Wouldn’t it be nice if Wilkinson’s student body and school band were on hand in the Vegas arena to cheer for their altruistic teach, and better yet if Bella had a change of heart and also arrived ringside for a kiss at the moment of truth?
“Here Comes the Boom?” How about, here comes a pat Hollywood tale of redemption where a perennial loser transforms himself into a beloved hero who wins the cage match, saves his best friend’s job, and gets the gorgeous girl!