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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Review: SUPER

             I can safely say I was not expecting Super to play the way it did. This is a sick, demented movie that could have only been conceived by the man who brought us PG Porn. And like PG Porn, this movie pulls the rug right under your feet in order to create a deranged commentary on the genre it is parodying.  This is not your little brother’s superhero movie, nor your parent’s superhero movie; to be honest this isn’t really a superhero movie. It has more in common with Hitchock’s Psycho than it does with Superman. This could be Batman Begins if Bruce Wayne lived on minimum wage in Arkansas. But could we really call that a superhero movie?
            Super is about the sad life of Frank and how his life became a little better. The two greatest moments in Frank’s (Rainn Wilson) life are the day he married Sarah (Liv Tyler), a stripper/waitress who works at the dinner he cooks at, and the day he pointed in the general direction a criminal had run off to. Up until the day his wife leaves him for a smooth talking drug dealer names Jock (Kevin Bacon), Frank had been content leading this simple, non-ambitious life. But after Sarah leaves him, Frank looses a bolt or two in his head. 
            This causes him to see hidden messages within a Christian midnight show, a Japanese hentai cartoon, and the ill-advice he receives from Libby (Ellen Page), a local comic book store employee. Seeing these messages are a revelation from God urging him to become a masked vigilante, Frank creates his alter-ego The Crimson Bolt. Clearly delusional, Frank spends the day waiting for crime to happen; when it does, he attacks wrongdoers with a bolt wrench usually cracking their skull wide open. When Libby, who is as twisted an individual as Frank, learns about Frank’s secret identity, she joins him as the Crimson Bolt’s kid-sidekick, Boltie. Holding an incredibly black and white view of the world, the team attacks anyone who breaks the law, whether that be molesting a child and dealing drugs or cutting in line and keying a car. Under their twisted and deranged morality all wrongdoers deserve the same punishment.

Contrary to common belief, superheroes get bored to. 

          At a very basic level Super is a genre buster, a spoof of the superhero genre that has plagued movie screens through every summer of the past decade. But it takes the joke a step further; James Gunn really wants to make the audience reevaluate the implications of the superhero character. Gunn suggests that for someone to actually dress up in a mask and cape and walk around punishing wrong doers, that person must be an incredibly perturbed individual. Frank certainly fits the bill. Vigilanting is illegal in the real world; one person should not above the law in order get to decide whom to punish and for what crime.
          Rainn Wilson is as convincing an everyday Frank as you will ever get; this movie could not work without him, or without the fast talking tongue of Ellen Page. She has a gift; no one else can pull off as many variations of the F-word in thirty seconds this side of Joe Pesci. There are two magnificent moments between them, one beautiful and one very unexpected. The former can only be described as a moment that can only happens between the panels in comic books, while the latter would only happen in fan fiction. You’ll know the moments when you see them.
            I enjoyed Super. Its awkwardness, twisted mind, and cleverness all felt very fresh. It is not a movie to recommend to the faint of heart of to those who cannot handle a dark sense of humor. But it is an agreeable great genre buster. I liked it for what it was, a perverse dark comedy that despite its limitations does not seem to compromise its goal at any point. I could not possibly recommend this movie and feel like a responsible human citizen. Then again…

... why the hell not?

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