“Sounds like a revival,” Scott says when Marty has “Holly Holy” played for his entrance-into-the-arena song – and, as it was no doubt meant to be, that statement is prophetic. An old fashioned revival is a apt metaphor for the re-igniting of spirit that takes place in Scott and flows out from him to inspire everyone in his sphere. In case you couldn’t tell, Here Comes the Boom, totally rocks the teacher-movie.
In that fight Scott (Kevin James) knocks out the leprechaun-haired fighter that stole his entrance song, and that win, lucky punch or not, is the turning point, the beginning of the revival of everything Scott once believed in, the things that made him become a teacher in the first place. In a casual conversation with Bella (Salma Hayek) the next day, he defines the problems with a system that says “you can’t speed up to help the gifted ones, you can’t slow down to help the slower ones” illustrating how easy it is to become disillusioned and give up ~ to stagnate ~ when one works in a model that requires of teachers not that they share their energy and enthusiasm but only that they move the students through like “cattle.” He hits all the marks in the space of about 30 seconds, and in so doing, defines the real problem.
He doesn’t say everything right, but he says the right things
Disillusionment with an antiquated educational model that rewards uniformity and does everything it can to stamp out the original and unique (which it, simultaneously, claims to covet and admire) isn’t a new concept, and Scott’s vocalization of it isn’t especially eloquent ~ except, somehow, it is.
Ditto his observation to Malia’s father that his problems with his business are his, not his daughter’s, and, to the principal, that this (mixed martial arts competitions for money) wasn’t “plan A” ~ even if those statements are followed with “now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a class to teach and then I have to roll around with a sweaty guy from Holland.” (You recognize, immediately, the what the…? look in his eyes as what he just said replays in his mind ~ well, you do if you’re me and things don’t always come out of your mouth the way you lined them up in your head.)
“All that decays . . . can be restored”
It’s no coincidence that the content of that next class is a discussion of “what happens to a stagnant cell?” or that the method of teaching is a return to the unconventional, and to the energy and enthusiasm with which Scott entered in to this profession. It’s the beginning of the restoration ~ “the way a cut heals” ~ for the music program and Marty’s job, yes, but those practical considerations almost become secondary as you watch Scott come back to life and the ripple effect his own return from stagnation has on everyone around him. “And when all the cells work together? [. . . ] The entire system is healed.”
Marty’s “you can quit right now” speech gives me chills
Before the final round of his big MMA fight, when Scott feels that he may not be able to finish, Marty (Henry Winkler) shows Scott what he can’t see for himself (illustrated, physically, by his blurred vision): that he’s already accomplished what is most important. He has done what teachers are meant to do. On the heels of that revelation, whether or not he wins, whether or not he gets the money to save Marty’s job ~ none of that matters. The “system” has been healed, and living, will find a way to continue.
“Where I am, what I am, what I believe in… Holly holy….”
There’s a lot more here, and so much of it inspiring and funny and heartwarming ~ but, as much as I love being the person who turned someone on to a great movie, I try to keep the spoilers to a minimum, so you get to have the surprises and laughs and welling emotion as they were meant to come.
And I definitely won’t deny you the wry delight of recognizing for yourself the several nods to the Rocky movies. I’ll also leave it as an exercise for the student to mine the wealth of layered meaning and story and popular culture ~ the performances turned in by Bas Rutten (Niko) and Charice (Malia) that literally sing, for instance ~ along with the metaphors, and microcosm-to-macrocosm foreshadowing, all delivered with the indelible stamp of everyman accessibility that is so Kevin James. As for me ….
Here Comes the Boom is, literally, the most inspiring why-teachers-become-teachers movie I’ve seen since To Sir, With Love ~ bar none ~ and Biology teacher Scott Voss (Kevin James) shines, an everyday hero unawares.
“In him this glowed, when all beside had ceased to glow.”