Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

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Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Written by
Produced by
CinematographyBrandon Trost
Edited by
Music byMatthew Compton
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release dates
  • May 24, 2016 (2016-05-24) (New York City)
  • June 3, 2016 (2016-06-03) (United States)
Running time
87 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$20 million[2]
Box office$9.7 million[3]

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is a 2016 American mockumentary musical comedy film directed by Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone and written by and starring Andy Samberg, Taccone, and Schaffer. The trio, collectively known as The Lonely Island, also co-produced the film with Judd Apatow and Rodney Rothman. Sarah Silverman, Tim Meadows, Imogen Poots, Joan Cusack, Maya Rudolph, and Chris Redd appear in supporting roles.

The film was released on June 3, 2016, by Universal Pictures, and became a box-office bomb, grossing just over $9 million against a budget of $20 million. It received positive reviews from critics and has developed a cult following.


Conner Friel is a musical prodigy at an early age, and he forms a pop rap group dubbed "The Style Boyz" with his childhood friends Lawrence Dunn and Owen Bouchard. They almost instantly gain fame in the music industry and inspire many of today's musicians. However, after failing to receive credit for writing Conner's guest verse on a popular single, Lawrence leaves.

After the Style Boyz disband, Conner begins a solo act, taking on the name "Conner4Real", with Owen as his DJ while being supported by his mother Tilly. Lawrence begins farming in Colorado after a failed attempt at going solo. Conner's debut album Thriller, Also rockets to the top of the charts, and his fame increases. In 2015, Conner releases his second album, Connquest, which is heavily panned due to his writing every song himself and using hundreds of different producers rather than Owen's original beats. With low sales, Conner's manager Harry suggests having Aquaspin, a home appliance manufacturer, sponsor the tour as they meet with its representative, Deborah. The company's appliances begin playing Conner's songs when in use, causing a nationwide power outage.

Conner begins his tour, but the shows do not sell as well as he had hoped. Harry suggests they hire hip-hop artist Hunter the Hungry as an opening act, and the ticket sales begin to rise. Conner adds new gimmicks to his act, including a robotic mask for Owen, and publicizes his relationship with actress Ashley Wednesday. But when a trick is seemingly botched in Nashville, Conner is exposed naked (without his penis visible) mid-concert and becomes the subject of mockery. Conner's publicist Paula Klein suggests he pull another publicity stunt to deflect attention from his humiliation.

Conner decides to propose to his actress girlfriend Ashley Washington on E! with a display including several trained Party Wolves (since a psychic mentioned that Ashley was a wolf in a past life) and a performance by Seal. Despite Harry telling a Party Wolves handler that he can't stop the performance, Seal's vocals agitate the wolves and they break loose, mauling the press, the orchestra, and their handlers. Seal fights one of them as he's been in this situation before as he tries to get into the limo, but gets attacked by another one as Conner, Ashley, and Harry flee in their limo. A news report states that Seal sued Conner over his latest wolf injuries as Seal's fans talk bad about Conner. After the incident, Conner and Owen end up as guests on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Sometime later, a news report states that Ashley has broken up with Conner.

Worried about the declining quality of his friend's music in light of some low sales, Owen sets up a meeting between himself, Conner, and Lawrence in a limo in the hopes of bringing them back together like The Parent Trap as an assortment of fans gather outside of it. The reunion ends poorly when Conner refuses to acknowledge that Lawrence wrote the track that launched his career. As the solo tour progresses, Hunter's career takes off, selling more records than Conner and extending his opening performances.

At one of the concerts, Hunter announces that he will not leave the stage, angering Conner. Conner rushes the stage, but a brawl ensues when Hunter admits that he orchestrated Conner's wardrobe malfunction. Conner demands that Harry fire Hunter as the opener, but when Harry refuses, he discovers that Harry has signed Hunter. Conner fires Harry. Connquest is later knocked off the charts and Aquaspin decides to pull their sponsorship.

After talking about how he thought he can trust Harry, Seal (who Ashley married), and that Yelp review on PartyWolves.com, Conner tests Owen and his yes men's loyalty by making them pancakes mixed with dog feces, which causes Owen to leave the crew. After his beloved pet turtle Maximus dies and a fight with Martin Sheen, Conner sinks into a depression and moves back into Tilly's house while Tilly is away with Fall Out Boy. He begins drinking heavily and starts selling childish horse drawings online. Checking up on Conner, Paula forces Conner to leave the house and takes him to a club featuring Owen.

Conner and Owen reconcile and decide to finally make amends with Lawrence. Conner gives Lawrence his Poppy music award, apologizes, and acknowledges his contributions. As the three get high and collaborate in Lawrence's studio, Conner receives news from Paula that a six-minute slot has opened for Conner to perform at the Poppy Music Awards due to Taylor Swift being arrested for murder. With encouragement from his friends, he decides to reunite the Style Boyz.

At the Poppys, Hunter and Mariah Carey argue on stage, and Harry orders Hunter to find himself a new manager after being insulted by him. Conner reconciles with Harry and later finds out that the six-minute slot has been shortened to three, forcing him to perform either a Conner4Real song or a Style Boyz song. Conner decides to perform the Style Boyz's new song "Incredible Thoughts" featuring Michael Bolton.

As Hunter leaves in defeat, Conner reflects on his lessons and the value of holding onto relationships after reaching stardom while also wondering if Lawrence knew a crew member who kissed him and why Deborah is backstage. Conner introduces a new baby turtle named Maximus II before one of the Party Wolves attacks him.

During the credits, the CMZ reporters talk about the Style Boyz getting back together. While they note that they don't hang out much outside of their work, the lead reporter does ask if they have a picture of James Franco leaving a restaurant.


  • Andy Samberg as Conner "Kid Conner" Friel / Conner4Real, a pop rap star
    • Evan Fine as 10-year-old Conner
  • Jorma Taccone as Owen "Kid Contact" Bouchard, Conner's former bandmate and current DJ
  • Akiva Schaffer as Lawrence "Kid Brain" Dunn, Conner's former bandmate and songwriter who became a farmer following the breakup
    • Elliott Smith as 10-year-old Lawrence
  • Sarah Silverman[4] as Paula Klein, Conner's publicist
  • Tim Meadows[5] as Harry Duggins, Conner's manager
  • Maya Rudolph as Deborah, a representative for Aquaspin
  • Joan Cusack as Tilly Friel, Conner's party-addicted mother who supports her son
  • Imogen Poots as Ashley Wednesday, an actress who is Conner's girlfriend[6]
  • Chris Redd as Hunter the Hungry, an underground rapper who tours with Conner
  • Edgar Blackmon and James Buckley as Eddie and Sponge, members of Conner's entourage who serve as his yes men[7]

The rest of Conner's staff include: Ashley Moore as Sarah, his personal assistant; Bill Hader as Zippy, a roadie; Danny Strong as his perspective manipulator; Will Forte as his bagpipe player; and Justin Timberlake as Tyrus Quash (uncredited), Conner's chef who later dresses as Mr. Fish during the Style Boyz performance at the Poppies.

Will Arnett, Eric André, Mike Birbiglia, and Chelsea Peretti portray CMZ reporters, a parody of TMZ. Kevin Nealon appears as photographer Gary Sikes, and Paul Scheer plays one of the Party Wolves handlers at Conner and Ashley's engagement ceremony who asks Harry to stop Seal's singing as it's driving the wolves crazy. Emma Stone makes an uncredited cameo as Claudia Cantrell, a well-known pop singer who helped kickstart Conner's solo career, and "Weird Al" Yankovic appears as the lead singer of Hammerleg. The wives of Samberg, Taccone, and Schaffer all make brief appearances: Joanna Newsom (Samberg's wife) as Zippy's flatline doctor, Marielle Heller (Taccone's wife) as a member of Conner's documentary crew, and Liz Cackowski (Schaffer's wife) as the Poppies stage manager. Judd Apatow voices one of Conner's fans.

Cameos as themselves


Principal photography on the film began on May 14, 2015, announced by Universal Pictures under the working title Conner4real.[8][9]


The film was advertised on YouTube the month of its release date. On May 10, 2016, Samberg made an appearance on NBC's The Voice in character as Conner4real to perform "I'm So Humble", alongside judge Adam Levine, and give answers to contestants in a farcical Q&A session.[10] Samberg then made a guest appearance on the season 41 finale of Saturday Night Live, on May 21, 2016. Promoted as a new SNL Digital Short, he appeared in character as Conner4real and debuted a song from the movie ("Finest Girl"). Taccone and Schaffer received guest writing credits for the episode.[11] The Lonely Island also released a video "I'm a Weirdo" to their YouTube channel, featuring Conner4real rapping on the street.[12]

The film was released in the United States on June 3, 2016, and in the United Kingdom on August 26, 2016, by Universal Pictures. It did not get an international release.[13]


Never Stop Never Stopping
Soundtrack album by
ReleasedJune 3, 2016
The Lonely Island chronology
The Wack Album
Never Stop Never Stopping

The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience
Singles from Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping — Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
  1. "I'm So Humble"
    Released: May 10, 2016
  2. "Mona Lisa"
    Released: May 10, 2016
  3. "Finest Girl (Bin Laden Song)"
    Released: May 22, 2016

The Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping soundtrack album, performed by the Lonely Island, was released on June 3, 2016, the day of the film's release.[14]

Track listing[edit]

1."I'm So Humble" (featuring Adam Levine)Stress2:33
2."Hot New Single (Dialogue)"
  • Samberg
  • Schaffer
  • Taccone
3."Equal Rights" (featuring Pink)
4."Turn Up the Beef" (featuring Emma Stone)
5."Finest Girl (Bin Laden Song)"
6."Mona Lisa"
7."Are or Aren't? (Dialogue)"
  • Samberg
  • Schaffer
  • Taccone
8."Hunter the Hungry Is Gon’ Eat" (featuring Chris Redd)
  • Samberg
  • Schaffer
  • Taccone
  • Jamil Pierre
9."Should I Move?" (featuring Akon)
10."2 Banditos" (featuring Chris Redd)DJ Frank E1:56
11."Things in My Jeep" (featuring Linkin Park)
12."Kill This Music (Dialogue)"
  • Samberg
  • Schaffer
  • Taccone
13."Ashley Wednesday" (featuring Seal)
  • Samberg
  • Schaffer
  • Taccone
  • Cain
  • Bell
  • Needlz
  • Donut
14."F**k Off"
15."Donkey Roll"
  • Samberg
  • Schaffer
  • Taccone
  • Canatan
16."Trip to Spain (Dialogue)"
  • Samberg
  • Schaffer
  • Taccone
  • Samberg
  • Schaffer
  • Taccone
  • R. Witherspoon Jr.
  • Dallas Koehlke
18."Owen's Song"
19."What Was That Beat? (Dialogue)"
  • Samberg
  • Schaffer
  • Taccone
20."Sick Glenda"
21."Incredible Thoughts" (featuring Michael Bolton and Justin Timberlake as "Mr. Fish")
Kinetics & One Love2:56
22."Me Likey Dat"
  • Samberg
  • Schaffer
  • Taccone
  • Jung
  • Baxter
23."Legalize It"
24."I'm a Weirdo"
  • Samberg
  • Schaffer
  • Taccone
  • Sultan Banks
25."Karate Guy"
26."Rock Roll Skate"
  • Samberg
  • Schaffer
  • Taccone
27."Hey Ya Ho" (featuring Chris Redd)
Arthur McArthur1:25
  • Samberg
  • Schaffer
  • Taccone


Chart (2016) Peak
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[15] 74
US Billboard 200[16] 69
US Top Comedy Albums (Billboard)[17] 1
US Top Rap Albums (Billboard)[18] 6
US Soundtrack Albums (Billboard)[19] 3


Box office[edit]

In the United States, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping opened on June 3, 2016, alongside Me Before You and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows and was expected to gross around $7 million from 2,311 theaters in its opening weekend.[20] The film grossed $322,000 from its Thursday previews and $1.8 million on its first day.[2][21] In its opening weekend, the film grossed $4.6 million and finishing 8th at the box office.[22] The film was a box office bomb, grossing just $9.5 million against its $20 million budget.[3]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 79% based on 175 reviews, with an average rating of 6.70/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping updates the rock mockumentary for the 21st century mainstream – and hits many of its low-hanging targets with side-splitting impact."[23] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 68 out of 100, based on 43 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[24] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.[2]

Vince Mancini of Uproxx gave the film a positive review, saying: "It's as stupid as it is relevant, and that layering of humor styles — insightful satire, no-holds-barred vulgarity, irresistible juvenilia, surreal pop art, timeless deadpan — are Popstar‘s hallmark. It's smart, dumb, silly, and gross in all the right ways. I loved it."[25] David Palmer of The Reel Deal gave the film 8/10, calling it the best comedy of 2016 and praised the songs.[26]

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky of The A.V. Club wrote: "No music mockumentary has really managed to reproduce This Is Spinal Tap's comic mojo, but Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping gets closer than most to that subgenre-defining comedy's mix of the dead-on and the over-the-top, even if it tends to go for quantity over quality."[27]

Home media[edit]

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping was released on Digital HD on August 16, 2016, and on Blu-ray and DVD on September 13, 2016 by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.[28][29] As of June 16, 2017, it had made $1.1 million in home media sales.[30] Shout! Factory released the film on Blu-ray on November 12, 2019, which included the previous special features in a limited edition steelbook case.[31]

Potential sequel[edit]

In 2022, Schaffer announced that a sequel to the film is not in the works, but is not off the table.[32]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Popstar: Never Stop, Never Stopping (15)". British Board of Film Classification. July 13, 2016. Retrieved July 13, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2' Struggles With Sequelitis; 'Me Before You' Lures In The Ladies". Deadline Hollywood. June 5, 2016. Retrieved June 5, 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (2016)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 23, 2016.
  4. ^ Kit, Borys (May 14, 2015). "Sarah Silverman Joins Andy Samberg in Lonely Island Music Comedy (Exclusive)". hollywoodreporter.com. Retrieved May 19, 2015.
  5. ^ Pedersen, Erik (May 19, 2015). "Tim Meadows Joins Lonely Island Pic 'Conner4real'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 23, 2015.
  6. ^ Sneider, Jeff (May 19, 2015). "Imogen Poots in Talks to Play Andy Samberg's Love Interest in Lonely Island Comedy (Exclusive)". thewrap.com. Retrieved May 23, 2015.
  7. ^ Pedersen, Erik; D'Alessandro, Anthony (May 28, 2015). "James Buckley Joins Lonely Island Pic 'Conner4real'; Evan Jones Set For 'Shot Caller'; Goldenthal Lauded In Krakow". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
  8. ^ "Universal Pictures Begins Principal Photography on Top Secret Untitled Lonely Island Movie". prnewswire.com. May 14, 2015. Retrieved May 19, 2015.
  9. ^ Lesnick, Silas (May 14, 2015). "Production Begins on Top Secret Untitled Lonely Island Movie!". comingsoon.net. Retrieved May 19, 2015.
  10. ^ Kreps, Daniel (May 11, 2016). "See Andy Samberg, Adam Levine Debut 'I'm So Humble'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2018-05-02.
  11. ^ "The Lonely Island Return to "SNL" With "Finest Girl": Watch - Pitchfork". Pitchfork. 22 May 2016.
  12. ^ Martinelli, Marissa (31 May 2016). "Andy Samberg's Freestyle Rap Video as Conner4Real Is Very Funny, Very NSFW". Slate. Retrieved 29 January 2024.
  13. ^ Pedersen, Erik (9 June 2015). "Lonely Island Movie Gets Summer 2016 Release From Universal". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 2015-06-09.
  14. ^ Pearce, Sheldon (May 23, 2016). "The Lonely Island's Popstar Soundtrack Features Linkin Park, Seal, Akon, Emma Stone". Pitchfork. Retrieved May 28, 2016.
  15. ^ "The Lonely Island Chart History (Canadian Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved June 16, 2016.
  16. ^ "The Lonely Island Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved June 14, 2016.
  17. ^ "The Lonely Island Chart History (Top Comedy Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved June 16, 2016.
  18. ^ "The Lonely Island Chart History (Top Rap Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved June 16, 2016.
  19. ^ "The Lonely Island Chart History (Soundtrack Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved June 16, 2016.
  20. ^ "'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Sequel to Top Box Office, But Faces Troubled Waters Ahead". TheWrap.com. 31 May 2016.
  21. ^ Anthony D'Alessandro (June 3, 2016). "'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2', 'Me Before You' Get Thursday Night Going – Box Office". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 3, 2016.
  22. ^ Anthony D'Alessandro (June 5, 2016). "'Ninja Turtles 2' Muscles Up On Saturday For OK Est. $35.3M Opening; 'Me Before You' Opens To $18.3M – Sunday AM B.O. Update". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 5, 2016.
  23. ^ "Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 17, 2021.
  24. ^ "Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved June 9, 2016.
  25. ^ "'Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping' Is The Best Mockumentary Since 'Spinal Tap'". Uproxx. May 15, 2016. Retrieved May 15, 2016.
  26. ^ "'Popstar' Is the Best Comedy of 2016". The Reel Deal. June 2, 2016.
  27. ^ Vishnevetsky, Ignatiy (June 2, 2016). "Popstar gives today's Top 40 a little Spinal Tap". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
  28. ^ Stockman, Tom (August 10, 2016). "Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Arrives on Digital HD on August 16 and Blu-ray & DVD on September 13". We Are Movie Geeks. Retrieved July 30, 2023.
  29. ^ Lesnick, Silas (September 13, 2016). "September 13, 2016: This Week on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD". ComingSoon.net. Retrieved June 16, 2017.
  30. ^ "Popstar Never Stop Never Stopping (2016)". The Numbers. Retrieved June 16, 2017.
  31. ^ "Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping [Limited Edition Steelbook] + Exclusive Lithograph". Shout Factory. Retrieved 2020-10-11.
  32. ^ Fuge, Jonathan (June 22, 2022). "Popstar Director Akiva Schaffer Say 'Never Say Never' to a Andy Samberg Mockumentary". MovieWeb. Retrieved June 23, 2022.

External links[edit]