SPOILER FREE REVIEW: I should start off by saying that Super isn’t really a comedy (but it made me laugh), nor is it a drama (but it had the theater in tears). Super is an incredibly sad film about loneliness, despair, and the willingness to fight (and kill) for something you truly love. Most people won’t have the opportunity to see Super in theaters. As a matter of fact, within the next few weeks you should be able to watch Super “on demand” through your local cable provider. Writer/Director James Gunn decided to flip off the MPAA and made the exact film he wanted to make; this means that Super is un-rated, and totally messed up.
Rainn Wilson stars as Frank, a sad line cook at a local diner. His life has always been shitty, and he’s only experienced two moments of pure happiness, his marriage, and the time he helped a police man stop a thief (by literally pointing and saying “he went that way officer!”). So what happens when his beautiful wife decides to run away with a cracked out drug lord? Crazy shit happens, that’s what..
After having a series of somewhat religious themed visions, Frank decides to become The Crimson Bolt, a hero of his creation. His motivation is to rid the world of all evil, one neighborhood at a time. As Frank’s mental stability begins to unravel, his methods become more and more extreme. At one point in the film, he brutally beats a couple with a pipe wrench for “cutting” in line at a local cineplex; hardly, the work of a super hero. The violence is incredibly real and extreme. When the Crimson Bolt hits someone with that wrench, you can almost feel it.
Having never watched a single episode of The Office, I only knew Rainn Wilson as “the jerk” from Juno. That being said, Wilson gives an incredible performance and should get major props for his portrayal of Frank. It can’t be easy portraying fear, rage, and despair all while wearing red spandex, but Rainn pulls it off. By the end of the film, Frank is actually scary as hell. Ellen Page plays a local comic shop employee who helps Frank along his journey. Paige is out of her fucking mind in this film. Her character of Libby is essentially a sociopathic nymphomaniac; the perfect sidekick for The Crimson Bolt! Page’s pure insanity had our entire theater laughing, and it was great to see her play something other than her usual “wise beyond her years” female. Kevin Bacon seemed to have a lot of fun playing Jacques (JOCK) a drug lord who always appeared to be on some sort of stimulant.
James Gunn got his start working for Troma films, and it’s clear to see that Lloyd Kaufman had a huge impact on him. I wouldn’t be surprised if Super opens a lot of doors for Gunn. While it’s far from a “perfect” film, it’s incredibly unique, and at some points moving. Isn’t that why we go to the movies in the first place? On the other hand, Super is an exhausting film that leaves you feeling a bit empty inside. The laughs and violence were spectacular, but they couldn’t really mask the overall somber tone of the movie. The film did a great job of showing us why the world does NOT have super heroes. If you try and fight a criminal with a gun, you get shot and die. If you decide to fight back with a gun of your own, well… then… you’re now a murderer and a criminal as well. If you’re in the mood for something unlike anything you’ve ever seen before, then check out James Gunn’s Super, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.