' ' Cinema Romantico: Here Comes The Boom

Monday, April 01, 2013

Here Comes The Boom

The story of "Here Comes The Boom" revolves around the music program at Wilkinson High School being put on the chopping block on account of a flailing budget. Naturally, its somewhat fearful leader, Marty (Henry Winkler), offers a defense, arguing gobs of money is allocated to the football team. The requisite evil Principal (Greg Germann) retorts that the football team and its boosters bring in a cool 1.3 million for the high school every year. Therefore it is clear which of the two is more important. "Here Comes The Boom" does not know it but that passage contains the underlying theme of its entire movie.

Scott Voss (Kevin James), a one-time teacher of the year who is now disillusioned for reasons sort of made clear and reduced to climbing in his classroom window when he shows up late (again), finally decides to take a stand against the requisite evil Principal when he overhears the glowing melodies made by Marty's tutees and decides to help him raise the necessary funds by any means necessary to save the program. That he is also doing it to potentially woo his fellow educator, voluptuous Bella Flores (voluptuous Salma Hayek, who is there basically to just be voluptuous), is beside the point. He is a hero! And yes, that is what he will be referred to several times by movie's end - "a hero." Hold that thought.

With few options for getting rich quick, Scott turns to a student, Niko (Bas Rutten), in the night citizenship class for which he moonlights as instructor. Niko, it seems, is an MMA fighter - that is, Mixed Martial Arts - and simply losing an MMA fight can earn massive moolah. Scott, an ex-college wrestler, convinces Niko to be his Mr. Myagi and before long he is taking fights in random rundown rings and begins earning checks he immediately puts toward the music program.

Along the way, of course, his passion for teaching is re-ignited, not just by Bella but by a headphone wearing student named Malia (Charice) who appears to have possibly been an extra in "School of Rock" (by which I mean her character is given less shading and is, thus, less interesting than the characters in "School of Rock"). Mostly, though, and more swiftly than gradually, his skills as a ring warrior improve. He miraculously wins fights. The UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) league hears of Scott's rags-to-riches story and immediately wants to pit him in a made-for-TV match against one of their best. The prize: $50,000. Scott agrees.

I will leave it to you to figure out the result of his showdown between Biology Teacher & Executioner - which for one brief moment fools us into believing it just might transcend its roots - to instead focus on the way in which this inevitable third act undermines its message.

The contention could be that my forthcoming argument is simply meant to be contrarian, a poking of the lovable huggy bear that is Kevin James, that I am failing to take this "Rocky" meets "Mr. Holland's Opus" opus at face value. I would counter that I am taking "Here Comes The Boom" at face value. What is a film if it not what is shows us, and all points I am about to make are culled directly from this film's storyline and the decisions of its characters.

Here we find a film presenting a high school music program about to be thrown on the scrap heap, partly to continue providing new football uniforms every year (which is a line in the movie), in which the ultimate saving grace is not, say, a choral event or band competition (which would make more sense in terms of the subject matter) but an ultimate fighting cage match in which our protagonist is explicitly made to be a modern day prizefighter.

As a sports fan myself I'm not saying it's right or wrong - I'm just saying it's interesting that as much as "Here Comes The Boom" argues not to give up on what's right and do anything to lend aid to the kids of tomorrow and to put education first, it also also re-enforces the worshiping of our sports idols over our schoolteachers. After all, no one calls Scott a "hero" until he's fighting in a cage on TV with Joe Rogan announcing.

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