Kevin James, who made a name for himself as a UPS delivery guy on the television sitcom “The King of Queens,” has carved out a movie career playing a weight-challenged screw-up in light comedies.
You can’t help liking him — or, at least, the clean-cut, nice-guy persona and the boyish grin. He’s a gifted physical comedian.
“Here Comes the Boom” is yet another middling, semi-bland comedy starring James. It’s no great shakes, but it’s passable. It’s the kind of movie that panders to the audience at all costs, including believability.
You’ll find a few good chuckles, along with lots of physical slapstick, barf jokes, a food fight and other well-worn comedic gags.
James plays Scott Voss, a burnt-out high school biology teacher who once cared but now shows up late to work and sleeps under a newspaper while his students read.
The only thing that inspires him is having the hots for the school nurse, Bella (Salma Hayek), who rejects all his date requests because she thinks he just doesn’t care about the kids anymore.
When the nasty principal (Greg Germann) announces that drastic budget cuts will include the entire music program, Scott rashly vows to raise $50,000 to save the job of his friend Marty, the mild-mannered orchestra director (Henry Winkler).
Teaching English to adult students at night is a start, but not enough. But one of Scott’s students, Niko (martial-arts star Bas Rutten), has ties to mixed martial arts. Scott used to wrestle so he decides to mix it up in the ring, since even the loser gets a $3,000 paycheck.
Bella holds him to it. Marty becomes his manager. Niko is his trainer.
The result is a cookie-cutter movie that goes where you expect it to, and uses every gag you think it’s going to use as Scott works to get in shape, competes badly in the ring, perks up in the classroom, tangles with the principal and makes time with the nurse.
UFC martial-arts fans will get a kick out of several fighter celebs, such as Mark DellaGrotte, appearing in the ring.
Aging fans of “Happy Days” will enjoy seeing Winkler (the Fonz) again in a very different role, and he’s as likable as James. Hayek does fine as the hard-to-get love interest, though her part is underdeveloped.
And James skates by — though barely — on his personal charm. Can’t help liking him.
You also can’t help wondering what he could do with better material than “Here Comes the Boom.”
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