In Frank Coraci's "Here Comes the Boom", Scott Voss (Kevin James), a 42 year old biology teacher turns to the mortiferous world of mixed martial arts to help raise $48,000. At Wilkinson High where Voss teaches, the administration has decided to scrap the music class (which has 60 brilliant students). This puts Marty's (Henry Winkler playing the music professor) tenure in jeopardy. He's way past 70 years old so no one will hire him. What's worse, his 48 year old wife is once again pregnant! Yes, pregnant at 48!
Scott starts teaching for an extracurricular Citizenship Class, but $8 an hour clearly won't suffice. The school's music program is bound for oblivion. He seeks the help of co-teacher Bella Flores (Salma Hayek) who keeps rejecting his advances - he has invited her out for dinner 16 times and she is yet to agree. Unfortunately, good intentions aren't enough. When he gets wind of a loser's fee in a mixed martial arts match - which is $10,000 - he briskly decides to get into the game, enlisting the help of Niko (Bas Rutten), a Dutch emigrant who's in Voss' Citizenship Class. Will Voss succeed? Guess.
Though moderately watchable, "Here Comes the Boss" doesn't have the roll-on-the-floor humor that would bring the humongous crowd to cinemas. It is replete with slapstick humor: pie throwing, vomit jokes, etc. Kevin James isn't all that bad, but he fails to imbue our protagonist with a deeper sense of empathy. What's worse, he doesn't share an iota of romantic chemistry with the gorgeous Salma Hayek who plays James' co-teacher with a familiar name. When Scott and Flores flirt with each other, sparks don't fly. It's likewise a curiosity why Hayek who's known for films of considerable narrative gravitas has decided to consider this project. Variety perhaps? Unmistakably, this feels too light weight for a star of Hayek's stature.
But the movie's gargantuan surprise is Filipina singing sensation Charice Pempengco, aka Charice! Though cast in a stereotypical Asian ingenue role - the nerdy, brainy Malia de la Cruz in Voss' high school Biology class - Charice appears in several scenes with Voss and Hayek. While Charice's appearances in "Glee" seem tentative, irresolute and painfully self-conscious, the singer is a cauldron of confidence and sincerity in this movie. In one scene, she helps Niko study his citizenship examination by singing the information to the tune of Journey's "Faithfully". This scene alone indicates how Charice has moved on from being insecure and hammy, if a bit hesitant actress. It doesn't hurt that she's in several major scenes too. Does she get to sing? What nincompoop wouldn't take advantage of her singing gift? She gets to perform at the UFC Championship fight, singing Neil Diamond's "Holly Holly".
The film coughed up a mildly disappointing $11.8 million on its U.S. opening weekend (screened in 3,014 theaters), but has successfully amassed close to $40 million as I write this. It may not be "Sky Fall", "Harry Potter" or "Twilight" box-office caliber, but it is far from "John Carter" or "Ishtar" debacle either. I am not a big fan of Charice. I hate her onion-skinned fans with a passion: some of the worst in the world (this side of the Kimeralds, of course) because the term constructive criticism is an extra-terrestrial concept to these sniveling twats. But I am happy to see Charice gather enough confidence and charm to portray Malia. This should hopefully open more doors in Hollywood for the diminutive singer actress.
MISSING THE OLD
To be honest, I kinda miss the old Charice; the Charice we actually see in "Here Comes the Boom" - she with the long flowing hair, vulnerable veneer and sheepish expression. That was before she transmogrified into her new age make-over: the scary-looking, lesbian-tempered bearing - and with volatile temperament to boot - in ABS-CBN's "X Factor". Watching that show was a form of amusement. People would gather to check out Charice and her idiosyncratic hair styles. Just like how circus side shows amuse us.
|Charice, Kevin James, Salma Hayek, Henry Winkler|
|"They think you're a hero," whispers Malia to her teacher.|
|The old sassy look.|