‘Here Comes the Boom’ is a terrific bowling movie

There’s a lot to like about this midlife transformation movie about a bowling champion who sacrifices himself for his neighbor and  perseveres once he sets his sights on doing something good for the world. It’s never too late to change.

It stars Kevin James as Scott Voss, a lazy Boston high school biology teacher who takes the line of least resistance toward life, getting a date with the school nurse Bella (Selma Hayek), and teaching. He is constantly in trouble with Principal Betcher (Greg Germann) for being late.

He wanders over to the music room to ask fellow teacher Marty Streb (Henry Winkler) to take his place for bus duty after school – for no good reason – and Marty, who is distracted and stressed,  tells him he and his wife are having a baby. They are both of a mature age and Marty asks Voss not to say anything. The next day the principal announces to the faculty that due to budget cuts the music program is being cut.  From some place deep inside Voss, who doesn’t like Betcher, says “they” will raise the money so that Marty does not lose his job but the other teachers are not so committed. And he blurts out the secret.

Voss begins teaching citizenship classes to make money but it is very slow going. One of his students, however, is a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) coach and Voss, a former college wrester, learns he can make $10,000 a match for losing, never mind winning. The training begins and so do the fights.

“Here Comes the Boom” is a predictable feel-good movie with some laughs and one moment about a hero that is very moving. Kevin James is a comical character but shows great restraint here. He’s more of a lovable loser and doesn’t go for stupid. His character Voss is so far down that the only way is up. Henry Winkler is very good and as the movie goes on I think his performance anchors the story.

By now you know this is not a movie about the sport of bowling but I wish it were.  As much as I have interviewed boxers about their stories and studied up on boxing and why people fight for sport, boxing and MMA are too violent, damaging and extreme for me to appreciate or enjoy.

“Here Comes the Boom” is a patriotic film that is rated PG, which surprised me. But of course, there is no blood so the whole thing comes off as sterile video-game violence. There is a lot of bad behavior though such as lying and breaking into a snack machine and being a really bad teacher with an extremely negative and cynical attitude toward education.

Not to worry, though, because almost everyone in the film changes for the good or the better.

I think the political views of Kevin James, who co-wrote the film, come through strongly. One of his students, Malia (Charice), teaches a song about the presidential term of office to a man in the citizenship class. She sings and the man repeats: The president has four years and then he’s done, the president has four years and then he’s done.  That’s not really true, Kev.

The film is directed by Frank Coraci who has several Adam Sandler movies to his credit (or not depending on your appreciation for the films.)

A scripture quote floats through one scene and Voss, the coach and Marty even pray before the final match in Las Vegas. It’s too bad that some films equate being an American with the Bible, prayer, and beating up people.

But “Here Comes the Boom” is excellent for a bowling movie and as such I liked it very much.

The trailer actually reflects the movie well:



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