Sunday, 5 February 2012



You really can't go around giving audiences such easy shots as a title that open. Back in the 80s there was a John Travolta movie called Perfect, which plainly wasn't, any more than Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure was excellent. Conversely, it might be unwise calling your movie Senseless (which is actually a fairly interesting movie) or Vile (which, let's be honest, it was). If you're calling your movie Super it had damn well better be, and frankly this is a long way from super. Granted, it's a jokey title: a comedy about a superhero without superpowers and who is therefore quite clearly not super at all, but you're just asking for the easily predictable rejoinder "no it isn't".

Frank (Rainn Wilson) is an ordinary guy who's had enough - he's leading a pretty miserable life to start with, but when his wife (Liv Tyler) is seduced away from him by a despicable drug dealer (Kevin Bacon) he's had enough - but in a crazed vision he realises he should become a masked superhero: The Crimson Bolt. He overcomes his lack of superpowers through comic books and, in a home-made costume and armed with a large adjustable spanner, takes to the streets to deal with crime. And his only ally is Libby (Ellen Page) from the comic book shop who becomes his sidekick Boltie....

Writer-director James Gunn (who also did Slither, which was okay) comes out of the Troma garbage factory and this movie certainly has the brash, garish ugliness of films like the repulsive Tromeo And Juliet. I've never liked Troma movies, ever since the original Toxic Avenger and Class Of Nuke 'Em High; I always thought they were nasty-minded, mean-spirited and obnoxious for the sake of it and if any Troma movies were better than others, it was only that they were slightly less loathsome. Bad taste is fine if there's some wit or style to it and Troma has never been interested in anything other than trying to be as charmless and tedious as possible. Super certainly has the Troma feel about it (Lloyd Kaufman has a cameo) although it mostly avoids the more grotesque grossout in favour of something that's supposed to connect on a more emotional level and does occasionally have a sweetness about it.

As far as 2011's Troma tribute acts go, Super is far better than Hobo With A Shotgun. Which is not to say that it's any good or even that I liked it even slightly; in the non-superhero stakes I much preferred Kick Ass although I wasn't overly struck by that film either. In truth the movie only comes alive when the slightly mad Ellen Page shows up because she's more fun than the morose and whiny Wilson. It's nice to see Gregg Henry back on screen but he's not in it enough, and Kevin Bacon is obviously having fun as an irredeemable scumbag. But I still found it a chore to get through.


Go away, crime!

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