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Review: 'Here Comes the Boom' is no knockout

Kevin James, a capable supporting actor, falls again as the lead, this time as a teacher who goes into mixed martial arts.

October 11, 2012|By Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times
  • Inside the school music room, Scott (Kevin James), left, tells Marty (Henry Winkler) about his MMA plan in "Here Comes the Boom."
Inside the school music room, Scott (Kevin James), left, tells Marty (Henry… (Tracy Bennett, Sony Pictures )

Call it the Kevin James conundrum.

The former star of TV's "The King of Queens" has brought an emotional gravity and guy-you-might-actually-know reality to supporting turns in such films as "Hitch" and "Grown Ups." Yet when he takes a leading role in movies like "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" or "Zookeeper," too often that nuance falls away and the humor inevitably broadens out to some variation of Fatty Fall Down.

If only there were some way in which Kevin James the actor could be a supporting player in Kevin James' starring vehicles.

His new "Here Comes the Boom" seems explicitly designed around whatever comedic mileage can be gained from seeing the oversized star haplessly loll about a wrestling ring.

Actually, it's the octagon of mixed martial arts fighting, with James playing a high school teacher who attempts to raise money to save his school's music program by becoming an MMA pro fighter. Much shirtlessness ensues.

Directed by Frank Coraci, the film has a flabby lack of momentum, listing between James' character scenes, the fights of escalating intensity and an obligatory, underheated romance with a school nurse played by Salma Hayek.

The film works hard at its inoffensiveness. Throughout, jokes are left on the table, setups never pay off in any significant way.

In "Here Comes the Boom," Kevin James is so busy being nice that he forgets to be funny.

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