So there’s this teacher, and he needs money. In desperation, he decides to enter the ring and fight MMA. His school isn’t too happy about it and…

Wait, this is NOT Warrior?

But seriously, Here Comes the Boom has a lot of familiarity, from the direct rip from the Mark Wahlberg drama Warrior to every inspirational sports movie ever. Pepper in a little of Happy Madison style, and you end up with a Kevin James movie.

For what it is, a somewhat expensive looking comedy about a guy brawling in the big leagues to save his school’s music program, Here Comes the Boom is entirely harmless material. It is an entirely inoffensive effort, and plays to James’ strength of physical comedy. The film is littered with side characters too, most whom are worth rooting for more than the lead (Miguel!).

It comes down to the framework that rushes ahead to sell the idea of a broken school system with direct villains who have zero personality beyond their stiff, aggressive actions. Super traditional and high on the cheese, surprises are not the strong suit. And, despite some presence from recognizable MMA vets, the final rumble even bests the Rocky sequels for sheer absurdity. Kevin James has clearly worked out for this role, but weight room or not, 35 elbows puts anyone out.

Despite the presence of Kevin James, the movie is sold on side personality. Henry Winkler stars as a tenured music teacher about to lose his job, and Bas Rutten joins in as a foreigner looking for citizenship. Plop these two into a buddy movie, and you are destined for classic status. Here, they cheer James on in his quest, everyone able to offer someone something of value in terms of character, and the mixture of divergent temperaments is genius. They salvage the otherwise dry material which holds troubled students, awkward romance, contrived scenarios, and a little sappiness just because.

James’ character grows in a two-step process, beginning the film as an irresponsible biology teacher whose best years are behind him, and the next he is up dancing on his desk to teach cell structure. That isn’t growth so much as it is a line that Boom happens to cross at the midway point.

Charisma can carry the film though, so expect to crack a smile or two and that goes for the gross out humor (applesauce vomit), cheesy humor (butt cracks), and the running humor (Miguel… man, Miguel is awesome). This one has too much energy, life, and Miguel… err, zip to hate completely. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Movie]

The boom came. He didn't like it @ 46:29

For 40-minutes, Here Comes the Boom will blindside those looking for a bright comedy. Desaturated to the point of being black & white, this pale, unimpressive style is certainly not without purpose. After 40-minutes, the color begins a winding trek back into the limelight. People begin looking like people with actual, non-zombie skin. Oranges begin to take on life to warm things up, blues start to have some impact, and reds will finally carry the needed spark.

A digital production, the gloss is certainly there, but with negative impact. The drab color palette seems conducive to smearing, and while limited, there is enough of it to rob the image of precision. There is also the concern of filtering, either an attempt to further dim the visuals or an after-effect of the camera used. In motion, some artifacting will rear its head too, although passing too quickly for most to notice. There is little to go on for the opening act, even into the second half. By the third, the imagery has come full circle, losing that artificial digital glow.

Black levels come in without the thickness needed to completely convey depth. That goes for most of the movie, although they stay level. Shadow detail is preserved cleanly with crush avoidance, and the shots of the MGM Grand meant to mimic a live UFC broadcast are still better than what you will see over cable. For the most part, slightly faded or not, the black levels are still winning.

Free from noise that could cause problems, Boom seems well managed by the encode. The above mentioned artifacting almost seems too thick for something coming from the AVC codec, so consider that a source annoyance. Where applicable, the disc can produce some firm, sharp details as presented by the material. Close-ups can be great, and if you ever wanted to be close to a sweaty Kevin James, this disc will get you there. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Video]

A quick starter, the DTS-HD mix begins rapidly as James takes to the streets on a motorcycle that pans between the stereos and then whips into the surrounds on the camera pass. It is a nice example of this track that reaches expectations without going over into something special. Crowded school hallways are fun as kids chatter all around, while live fights capture excellent audio from enthusiastic fans.

Eventually, the audio opens to the MGM grand, and capturing the larger audience is an effective element. From the music to the fans, the surrounds carry the bulk of the weight while the stereos stay focused on the rumble itself.

This one is not without LFE activity either, from slow motion punches, overuse of the predictable “Here Comes the Boom” song, and heavy slams, this Kevin James vehicle has more kick than anything else he’s ever done. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Audio]

Here Comes the Boom is a disc of many bonuses, and unfortunately, most are just too short to be of value. Eighteen deleted scenes are the longest thing here, and they pack an alternate ending as well. A gag reel barely breaks two minutes, so don’t expect much there.

Featurettes on the cast, a funny on-set fight, the school location, James’ training, Winkler and Rutten, the cameos from MMA pros, and a short “Disc Fighting” session with Rutten are the rest of the materials. With the exception of James’ training piece, none of them are longer than five minutes, nor are they much in the way of bonus material. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Extras]

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