Thursday, April 21, 2011

SUPER (2011)

Written & Directed by James Gunn

Where & When: Laemmle's Sunset 5, West Hollywood, CA.  April 3, 2011 3:00 PM

What would happen if an average man became sick and tired of the crime and injustice going on in the world by deciding to put on a costume and take matters in to his own hands?

That idea has been realized in "Super", a dark, disturbing, deranged, ultra violent but very funny low-budget comedy that flips the super-hero genre on it's ass.

Our story begins with mild-mannered Frank D'Arbo (Rainn Wilson) who is devastated when his recovering wife, Sarah (Liv Tyler) relapses and leaves him for Jacques (Kevin Bacon), a reptilian drug-dealer and strip club owner.

Very unhappy and depressed, Frank is determined to win back his true love who he feels was taken against her will but unfortunately he has more heart than brawn and he is pummeled by some henchmen of Jacques.

While watching television, the bruised and battered Frank sees a children's program about a Christian super-hero called, The Holy Avenger (Nathan Fillion) who teaches the importance of following society's rules. The show plants a seed in his head, so Frank goes to his local comic-book store to learn about heroes without super-powers, where Libby (Ellen Page), a live-wire clerk who suggest some books to read and they become friendly.

Later that evening, Frank receives a calling from God who helps makes it clear what he has to do. Frank sews together a costume and The Crimson Bolt is born.

This new hero hides behind garbage dumps, waiting for crime to happen before leaping in to action but he soon realizes that he needs a mode of self-defense, so a large, red pipe wrench becomes his weapon of choice. The Crimson Bolt becomes a media sensation and, as usual, he is misunderstood and mistaken for a criminal.

Libby discovers Frank's secret identity and wants to help him. Reluctantly he accepts and she becomes Boltie, The Crimson Bolt's sidekick. However, in her Boltie costume, Libby becomes very horny and blood thirsty which appalls Frank since he only wants to fight true crime and save his wife.

Jacques also discovers that Frank is The Crimson Bolt and decides to take him out since he is interfering with his drug trade. Frank's plan, as well, is to permanently remove Jacques, the obstacle standing in the way of his happiness with his wife. The two come together in a bloody, explosive and deadly battle to the finish.

"Super" shares not only a very similar plot but the merging of black comedy and graphic violence as the 2010 big-budget film, "Kick Ass" but I prefer this film. While "Ass" was about an immature teenager who is at the age where they think playing a costumed crime-fighter is possible, "Super" is about an relatively sane adult, although blinded by rage,who should still know better which makes it an even more crazy and hilarious story. "Super" is an uneven, predictable and kinda stupid film but I still laughed. I can honestly say that I enjoyed it simply for what it is and sometimes that's enough.

Now, obviously this is far from a great film as some of the jokes land nowhere, there isn't much cinematic artistry involved and I have difficulty in finding much need or humor in showing a close-up of one of the character's faces being half blown off but I still found more to like about "Super" than to dislike. The thing that makes "Super" work best is a solid, likable cast, most especially Ms Page, who are very adept at comedy and help elevate this material. I think it's possible "Super" could find new life on the midnight movie circuit by an audience that I'm sure would appreciate it's offbeat charm.

This film is certainly not going to appeal to everyone but if you don't mind your comedy very dark, sprinkled with a little blood and gore, then you might find "Super" pretty spectacular.