SUPER (James Gunn)


SUPER is a subversive, ridiculously funny and balls-out deconstruction of the comic book superhero genre. What separates it from previous films DEFENDOR and KICK ASS to which SUPER shares a similar theme is the bold attempt to delete all visual restraints. What results is a crime fighter borne out of curiosity and self-pity, sex taboos to beat anything you've seen out of WATCHMEN, and a moral ground which is intentionally absent. 

Rainn Wilson is so pitch perfect for the role of Frank D'Arbo/ Lightning Bolt that it must have been written especially for him. SUPER is the defining movie for Wilson's career, and I say that with utter respect for the man. I always knew he's up for great achievements since his Dwight Schrute in the TV series THE OFFICE.

Woody Harrelson is a mentally challenged person who thinks he's a crime fighter in DEFENDOR; KICK ASS featured ordinary people propelled to punish evil and stop street crime; Wilson's Frank D'Arbo in SUPER is another simpleton but with the purest intentions to just win over his wife (Liv Tyler) who's drugged and led into a downward path by mobster Jacques (Kevin Bacon) whom Frank calls "Jock". In the process, Frank becomes "THE LIGHTNING BOLT". Armed with a monkey wrench and dressed in red overalls and a mask, he gets to punish petty criminals en route to his ultimate goal, though he's methods are morally questionable. And he gets away with it because he's a depressed guy who has all the goodness in the world but is seduced by his newfound power.

To complement the deconstruction further, the plot provides for a sidekick in the form of comic bookstore clerk Libby (Ellen Page) who is amazed by Frank and joins him as his sidekick "Boltie". Page is cute, and loud, and full of energy, and she brings the heightened level of sexiness and eagerness to her character that compels. She completes the superhero chemistry. 

In the end, SUPER manages to surprise. I'm not gonna reveal the ending, but whatever you are guessing, you're wrong. Let's just leave it at that. I loved SUPER not because it's howlingly funny, or because Wilson and Page are great together, but because it dishes out the best and the worst in the superhero genre and leaves it all out in the open for discussion, and I'm such a sucker for deconstruction films. 

Shut up, crime!

RATING: 5/5     

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