A science teacher risks life and limb as a cage fighter in order to plug a budgetary shortfall at his high school in Frank Coraci’s preposterous, testosterone-fuelled comedy.
Here Comes The Boom initially sets out its stall as a broad comedy, replete with run-ins between the laidback hero, who has fallen out of love with the job, and a pernickety principal (Greg Germann), who doesn’t tolerate tardiness.
The script also contrives a romance between the teacher and a fiery school nurse (Salma Hayek), who has rejected countless overtures but softens as soon as she sees her paramour being pulverised for a good cause.
Violence begets lust, it would seem.
Once the central character strips off for his first bout and the script trades punch lines for bone-crunching punches, the physical humour and gooey romance sit awkwardly next to well-orchestrated, sweat-drenched fight sequences.
Matron might get hot and bothered by the brutality but as an audience we struggle to smile when the joker in the film’s pack is being repeatedly pummelled to a bloody, disoriented pulp.
Scott Voss (Kevin James) teaches biology at Wilkinson High School, which is weathering severe budget cuts.
The school’s music programme, run by Marty Streb (Henry Winkler), is threatened with closure, which would mean terminating the beloved teacher’s tenure.
Determined to help his colleague and retain a subject that the students clearly adore, Scott vows to cover the 48,000 dollar budget shortfall by taking on extra jobs outside of the classroom.
Niko (Bas Rutten), a student in Scott’s external citizenship class, introduces the teacher to the lucrative world of mixed martial arts (MMA).
It transpires that the losing fighter in high-profile MMA bouts can take home as much as 10,000 dollars.
Scott was a successful collegiate wrestler and he believes no-hold-barred brawling is the perfect way to save the music programme, presuming his 42-year-old body doesn’t crumble under the barrage of kicks and punches.
Marty is deeply moved by Scott’s self-sacrifice and agrees to help out behind the scenes, despite a complete lack of knowledge of contact sports.
“Were you actually ever in a fight?” asks Scott.
“No,” replies Marty, pausing for thought, “... not with a boy.”
Here Comes The Boom values brawn over brains.
Skirmishes are convincing, heightened by sickening sound effects of jabs and upper cuts connecting with skulls at high speed.
The script struggles to justify Scott as a role model for the students, so introduces a class swot called Malia (Charice), who needs her teacher’s help to convince her restaurateur father of the benefits of higher learning.
James and Hayek do not share any palpable on-screen chemistry but director Coraci persists in bringing them together. Beauty needs a snarling beast.
By Damon Smith
:: SWEARING :: NO SEX :: VIOLENCE :: RATING: 4/10
Released: November 9 (UK & Ireland), 104 mins