Kevin James has some very lucky friends. One minute the blockish, everyslob star of TV’s The King of Queens is hanging around with comedy pal and Ultimate Fighting Championship commentator Joe Rogan and getting chummy with Dutch retired UFC Heavyweight Champion Bas Rutten. The next minute Rogan and Lutten are hitching a ride to acting roles in James’ movie produced by Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison outfit. Here Comes the Boom, a cloddish, harmlessly drecky comedy from the Sandler factory of crude mush, is about a Boston high-school biology teacher named Scott (James) who throws his dense bod into mixed-martial-arts competitions as a form of fundraising. With budget cutbacks, the music program is slated to be axed, and Marty the music teacher (Henry Winkler, acting all fussbudget-y) will lose his job. And so, although Scott hasn’t done any grappling since his own high school days as a wrestler, he begins training with a wacky mixed martial artist (Rutten, entertaining in a kind of Euro-loon-comes-to-Hollywood way), with the aim of raising money by losing fights — for pay — against bigger, stronger, better players. Paul Newman’s refusal to stay down for the count in Cool Hand Luke has nothing on the inspirational malarkey (persevere with passion against all odds for what’s important, kids!) laid over scenes of a sweaty, XXL bare-torso’d James getting pummeled. That’s a mighty load of sweaty, XXL bare torso to watch.
To provide visual relief from the likes of James, Rutten, and the schlemiel-ified Winkler, Salma Hayek contributes scenes as the outlandishly guapisima school nurse. While she dresses Scott’s cuts and bruises, she rejects his advances until such time in the happy ending when it’s okay for a hottie with an accent to fall, Modern Family style, for a loaf of white bread. But in case even she’s not enough of a diversion and the viewer’s face is beginning to crack from holding a hopeful half-smile while waiting to laugh, the script (co-written by James) includes derivative, fake-uplifting subplots about the travails of an earnest Asian music student whose father wants her to quit what she loves to help him in his restaurant. There’s also the aspirations of a classroom full of adult immigrants studying for their U.S. Citizenship test.
As for Joe Rogan, he plays himself, a commentator for the UFC. That’s what friends are for. C-