Before I get 500 negative comments based on this review, let me add this important disclaimer. Kevin James’ newest comedy, “Here Comes the Boom,” is a flawed product. It’s ridden with inspiring clichés and could have used about twenty minutes cut out of its 105 minute run-time.

It’s also one of the sweetest, down-to-earth comedies I’ve seen in a good while.

“Here Comes the Boom” allows the likeable James to really hone in his, well, likeable personality, saddled with a half-way decent script filled with workable comedy and “that’s nice” greeting card heart. The film is also timely, making fairly accurate complaints against the current state of the public education system.

Social commentary with effective humor? In a Kevin James movie, nonetheless? Strange times, indeed.

After the budget of a Boston high school undergoes massive cuts, the music department led by Henry Winkler’s committed Marty, ends up falling to the wayside in favor of other extracurricular activities. James’ apathetic biology teacher Scott Voss, a friend of Marty, decides to save his pal’s job by entering into the ring of mixed martial arts. (He was a top wrestler in college, now, not so much). Teaming up with Marty and UFC fighter Bas Rutten’s Niko, Voss puts on the spandex and gloves in order to fight his way to somewhere around $38,000 dollars (the amount needed to keep Marty at the composer’s stand).

I was skeptical about the prospects of this film simply due to the fact that Kevin James isn’t usually in that great of a movie. Last year’s not-as-bad-as-everyone-said-but-still-not-that-good Zookeeper seemed to become the thought that popped into one’s head when thinking of James’ career. 2009’s Paul Blart: Mall Cop never exactly helped anything, either. Hopefully, Here Comes the Boom will allow for James to break out of the mold that pits him as starring in for-sure flops. James really can be an agreeable presence when given the right material. He uses his working-man appeal to make Scott Voss a fairly relatable character (unlike whoever he was in the talking animals movie).

The film (directed by Adam Sandler collaborator Frank Coraci) takes a humble approach to the concept, mixing in the usual, broad physical humor that James seems to relish with moments of fresh frustration. Just because this is a Kevin James comedy doesn’t mean that the film doesn’t have something to say. Through the humor (which, again, works here … it’s a decent comedy with a few great gags), we do get a film backboned with an all-too-real universe where kids come to school to be babysat – an environment nurtured by the administration. As Voss fights and wins money to save the school’s music department, he actually rekindles a spark to educate the children in his class. It’s presented in a very routine fashion, but I still found the focus to be surprisingly poignant.

Through all the silly gags, MMA fights and Henry Winkler antics (he’s great here), “Here Comes the Boom” makes a large-yet-effective statement about the way things are right now. The message is sugar-coated in not-too-realistic circumstances, but you still walk away feeling good about what you’ve seen.

“Here Comes the Boom” is funny, its moral agenda works, it stars Kevin James and it’s one of the year’s most surprisingly sweet movies. I still can’t believe I liked it as much as I did. Give the film a try. It’ll win you over before the credits roll.

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