Sunday, April 17, 2011

Super (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway
"Super" is a mumblecore superhero film with strong echoes of the documentary "Confessions of a Superhero" not to mention "Kick Ass". In the documentary  "Confessions",  Average Joes dress as their favorite comic book heroes, earning whatever money they can along Hollywood Boulevard. In the film "Kick-Ass" teens dress as heroes to settle with bullies.
This latest interpretation stars Rainn Wilson (The Office) and Ellen Page (Juno) who play Frank and Libby, two low level employees who dream of fighting crime by night as psychotic vigilantes. Frank is a pale short order cook. When his wife (Liv Tyler) gets in with a druggy crowd and leaves him, he goes nuts. Frank starts drawing in his room and watches Christian TV, showing a superhero beating up The Devil. He meets Libby at a comic book store. The two decide to join forces as The Crimson Bolt and Boltie, the sidekick. Frank is determined to get his wife back from the clutches of an evil Kevin Bacon. Yes, you read it correctly. An evil Kevin Bacon. Things get downright nasty. Equipped with a big red wrench, Frank smashes in skulls by the dozen, from child molesters and robbers, and also minor scofflaws that cut thru a line at an outside event. No shades of morality inhibit him Blood spills by the bucket. Eyeballs implode. Psychotic is the word. 
"You don't cut in line!" shouts Frank doing his best to sound like The Dark Knight, even though he embodies the coordination of Adam West together with The Creature from "Frankenstein". Frank's red suit is half patched together in old red t-shirts and it is one of the most stirring things in the film, as it  points to Frank's mental collapse.
During a brutal dismemberment battle, Libby screams in carnal joy at the violence. She is not a superhero at that moment. She is Babs Johnson from "Pink Flamingos"---"The Filthiest Person Alive". Utter joy at the sight of an impalement.
It is shocking to watch at first. The sight of so much blood rivals Hammer Films and would have Quentin Tarrantino swearing off spaghetti sauce.
These two characters are clearly insane and in fact, most every role is a bit nasty.  The one compelling element in the movie is the perverse relationship between Frank and Libby. Disturbed they are, but like Divine and Edith Massey of John Waters Fame, the couple has chemistry. By the end Frank is left alone with his drawings of his adventures, clearly moved but not all that happy. Is he a crazy person? Will he get help? In exploring the moral abyss, this could have been a more provocative film, but the noisy gore got in the way and we have a one hit Boy 
I recommend watching "Confessions of a Superhero" afterwards to get some perspective. It's got a "Batman" actor in the film who moonlights as a security guard and goes to anger management classes. Two fists across the chest. KAAPOW!!!
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