Review - Here Comes the Boom is in cinemas now - It's the thrill of the fight
I have some advice for the government: stop spending money on teacher recruitment. Right now. Instead, buy up every available copy of Here Comes the Boom and force everyone to go and see it.
Here Comes the Boom is a slightly silly high-school comedy. It is also the most effective piece of cinematic pro-teaching propaganda I have seen since Dead Poets Society. Scott Voss (Kevin James) is a high-school biology teacher. Though he was once young and keen, he has long since given up trying. Now he turns up late, slaps down pupil initiative and spends lesson time napping. He is, in short, a transformation waiting to happen.
The tiny part of him that still cares, however, is outraged when he hears that budget cuts are going to force the school music department to close. He promises head of music Marty (Henry Winkler) that he will raise the $48,000 necessary to save his job.
Because he is a nice guy - seriously, this is what it comes down to - Scott ends up meeting Niko, a former Mixed Martial Arts fighter. Realising that he can earn thousands of dollars simply by losing fights, Scott decides to enter MMA challenges himself.
"There are men who run marathons well into their eighties," he insists. "Not while being punched in the face," Niko returns.
We all know where this is going. A couple of fights in, Scott realises that he is no loser. Not in the fighting ring, and not in school, either. Next thing we know, he is standing on his desk and jiggling around in impersonation of a healing cell. Oh Captain, my seasick Captain.
Meanwhile, the script sparkles along rather pleasantly. "You ever actually been in a fight?" Scott asks Marty, when the music teacher offers unsolicited advice. "No. Well, not with a boy, anyway," Marty answers.
Henry Winkler, in fact, is an unexpected joy. In one scene, he simply says "Owwww!" over and over, as he watches Scott being beaten up. The written word cannot do justice to the pained expression Winkler crams into that single syllable.
Meanwhile, Scott is busy training, fighting and inspiring young minds. The school nurse, who has spent years brushing him off, is suddenly interested. Pupils are suddenly interested. Everyone is learning.
If I were inclined to mockery here, it would be easy to point out that, despite all his training, Kevin James never looks like anything other than a mooby, paunchy 42-year-old biology teacher. But, actually, I do not care. He is a dedicated fighting, teaching machine. He wants to inspire. To be inspired. He is doing it all for the children. He is the sexiest man alive.
Please, Mr Gove, where do I sign?