Absent of vigor or inspiration, Scott Voss (Kevin James) is a high school science teacher who has lost the motivation to educate. A decade has past since he was awarded teacher of the year. But that might as well had been a lifetime ago.
That motivation is reignited when the school announces it’s making 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 discourse with the cash-strapped administrators, Voss and school nurse Bella Flores (played by Salma Hayek) decide to raise the money in order to secure the vital music program.
The idea? Scott, once a prime wrestler in high school, decides to take up mixed-marital arts in hopes of becoming a UFC fighter. Unquestionably ludicrous, the Biology professor receives some much need assistance from Niko (an ex-mixed martial arts prized fighter played by Bas Rutten). The UFC veteran provides combat lessons and moral support, while Voss prepares Niko for his US citizenship test.
In attempts to save the jobs and lives of his teachers (mostly Marty) and students, Scott perpetually puts his own life in danger. Match after match, punch after punch, the tubby Biology teacher takes brutal beatings (strangely, he never seems to have more than few bruises, even after getting his head pounded in). Where the film looses most of its credibility is when it decides to shift from Dead Poet’s Society to Rocky.
The mere conceit of Scott, at the age of 42, competently competing against some of the greatest fighters scattered across the globe, is mind-numbingly insane and downright laughable to watch.
Even as Voss, Niko, and Marty grow closer together through a series of road trips heading to different UFC venues, the film lacks concentration. Ideally, the end goal is to provide a healthy reminder to children and teachers that education matters, and that sometimes going the extra mile to preserve ones right to indulge in art, can make all the difference. Unfortunately, the desires destination is never reached.
James’ persona, which I will attest to actually being quite fond of, gets in the way of the material. It doesn’t help that James’ obvious and unfunny humor is exacerbated by a screenplay unwilling to let the audience feel for its characters.
Director Frank Coraci and Kevin James make it a point to drive home that teachers are supposed to invigorate, educate, and inspire their young, idealistic and naive students. To what I suspect to be no coincidence, James’ dopey, feel-good comedy couldn’t arrive at a more potent time in this country.
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 cut backs in our education, the arts are the first to go. It’s woefully sad to contemplate that the school system is changing gears from cultivating talent to practicing standardized tests. Drama, theater, music, and film … the arts inspire children — often adding a healthy respite to a school day primarily spent in a stuffy, dull, and lifeless classroom.
Here Comes the Boom is riddled with a myriad of sequences designed to emotionally affect, alter, and move the audience. The issue is a good majority of those scenes are countered with unhopeful jabs of trite screenwriting and achingly painful predictability.
The aforementioned scenes, in particular the final 20-minute climax, should be a straight knockout of devastating pathos and joyous inspiration. It’s not. Resolutions blossom. Lives mended. Jobs saved. The result is crowd-pleasing merriment for those willing to look over the mediocrity of material lacking emotional punch or, well, the boom.