So far, Kevin James' attempts to break out of TV stardom to movie stardom have bombed.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop and Zookeeper did show off James' as the guy you'd want living next door. Plot-wise, however, both seriously sucked.
Co-written by James and directed by The Wedding Singer and Click's Frank Coraci, James plays apathetic school teacher Scott Voss. He's moved by very little. Angered by a soulless principle determined to cut the school's music program and the job of its excellent teacher — and to impress Salma Hayek's school nurse — he says he'll personally save the program.
His solution is to become an ultimate fighter.
What works for James is his personality. He's extraordinarily ordinary. James is accessible. He's someone like you, and someone you believe you could run into, sit down and yack with a bit and drink a beer or two.
In the right vehicle like his excellent supporting work in Hitch, the charismatic James is superb. Here Comes the Boom changes the game.
James also has his real-life brother and comedian Gary Valentine in the film. It's obvious the two are very close. Valentine and James have a couple of very nice, natural and easy scenes as best friends. If you didn't know they are related, there is an unspoken sense from the scenes that they are more than just friends.
The plot offers no surprises. Borrowing from every martial arts, boxing, kung fu, wrestling and athletic movie ever done, James and co-stars Hayek, Henry Winkler and martial arts icon Bas Rutten energetically romp through this charming and engaging comedy.
As a post script, it's really nice to see Winkler again. It's been too long. Winkler has wonderful comedic timing and has a blast playing the music teacher whose job and program are being eliminated.
Director: Frank Coraci
Stars: Kevin James, Salma Hayek, Henry Winkler, Bas Rutten
Rated R for brief nudity, language, violence, mature themes. It is playing at Regal's Columbia Center 8, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
Rating: 4 stars
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.