One of the first movies we ever reviewed for this site, so many years ago, was James Gunn’s ‘Slither’ and we so loved that movie that we gave that movie an award for being one of the best movies of whatever year it was we saw that movie. However it was clear to us, after watching ‘Slither’, that my fellow St. Louis native James Gunn… has issues. Now we have had the privilege of watching Mr. Gunn’s latest movie ‘Super’ which does for Super Heroes what I believe ‘Slither’ did for horror. I… uh… enjoyed this movie. A lot, actually. But you… well… you might not. Seriously. The man has issues and they have yet to be resolved.
Rainn Wilson plays the character of Frank, a line cook who loves him some Sarah (Liv Tyler) something fierce. As Frank narrates for us, a lot of good things haven’t happened to my man in his life, but Sarah fixed all of that. Looking at Sarah you might think that she’s a few notches above Frank’s pay grade, but for Sarah, having been to hell and back as a recovering drug addict, Frank is a damn good man for her.
Sadly at this time Sarah has fallen back into her old habits and has left Frank for Jacques the Manic Drug Dealer (Kevin Bacon). Frank wants her back, Sarah being a slave to the needle isn’t coming back, and Frank is devastated.
Then one day Frank gets a visit, in the form of a vision, from God and some of those Japanese Hentai tentacles, and they touch his brain. Literally. Now Frank knows what he must do. Not right of the bat, but eventually he knows what he must do and that is don the costume of the Crimson Bolt and fight injustice with a pipe wrench. Makes sense to me. Along his path to becoming the Crimson Bolt, Frank has made the acquaintance of the hyperactive, perpetually horny young woman who works in the local comic book store named Libby (Ellen Page) who possesses the Comic Book Knowledge Gene and will maniacally guide Frank on this path. Eventually this lunatic will worm her way into becoming the Crimson Bolt’s sidekick Boltie as the duo take to the streets and fight some crime. The crazy thing about this duo is that the guy in the red costume carrying the pipe wrench is the sane one. Comparatively speaking.
But while fighting crime with a pipe wrench is fun and all, the task at hand is to set Sarah free from the evil grip of Jacques the hyper Drug Dealer. To be completely honest with you, as far as kilogram trafficking drug dealers go Jacques doesn’t really seem all that evil but that’s the magic of Kevin Bacon for you. Jacques has a big deal going down, the Crimson Bolt and Boltie have to stop this deal and save Sarah. How did The Crimson Bolt know that the time was right jump into action? His vomit told him. I told you the man has issues, but do you listen to me?
For starters, I realize that Ellen Page is a grown woman in her mid-twenties, I know she can vote and drink and fuck and do whatever the hell she wants within the confines of society’s laws, but dammit, she still looks like twelve year old. Watching Ms. Page play with herself and grind on Rainn Wilson… Rainn Wilson for goodness sakes… was unsettling. Hell, the whole movie was unsettling. But it is this off-balance approach that makes ‘Super’ what it is and makes James Gunn who he is.
The film actually defies description. Beginning with the completely wacky opening animation sequence one would think that we are in store for a comedy. Yeah, it’s funny…say like watching Nathan Fillion as the Holy Avenger and his battles with the evil Demonswill (Gunn) in those faux Christian children’s shows were really funny. Watching some guy who cuts in line at a movie theater getting clubbed with a pipe wrench shouldn’t be funny, but it was. But I think the director knew his audience would find that, and other violent incidents to be perversely humorous, which is why he did other things in his film which he knew damn well you wouldn’t be able to laugh at. And let’s just leave it at that.
It’s kind of a drama, in way, I guess. It certainly has enough action that one could call it an action movie of sorts. There are the undertones of the occasional social message hidden in this chaos… I mean there’s a lot of stuff going on in ‘Super’.
But while this movie was entertaining, funny, sick, shocking… whatever… but what made it amazing, at least to me, was that I never knew what was coming. That is a rare thing for a movie to do effectively nowadays and do it in a way that still makes some kind of relevant sense. I’ve seen a few movies recently where I didn’t see whatever it was coming, but it didn’t make any sense. This is why I would hate to sully your experience, if you haven’t seen the movie, by spoiling anything that may or may not happen.
Personally, I can’t see anybody else playing Frank D’Arbo other than Rainn Wilson and his unique style. Is he a good actor? Beats me, but is he good at doing what he does? Yes he is. I’m tired of praising Ellen Page and her abilities as an actress so I’m not going to do that anymore, Kevin Bacon is in this movie and so is Michael Rooker. You can’t beat that with a dookey stick. I also observed that all of the bad things in this town occurred on N. Euclid. N. Euclid is the Central West End Mr. Gunn, and you know the cops won’t allow anything bad to happen there.
I really enjoyed ‘Super’, but if you didn’t… I’d understand. And if you haven’t seen it, I don’t know with a good conscience if I can even recommend it. There are some things which I imagine some might have serious difficulty dealing with. This is possibly why James Gunn is only allowed to make a movie like once every five years.