Friday, April 1, 2011

Movie with Abe: Super

Directed by James Gunn
Released April 1, 2011

There are some movies that, conceptually speaking, really should work. Rainn Wilson, who has spent his career playing off-kilter, peculiar characters and has gained fame as obnoxious oddball and beet farmer Dwight Schrute on “The Office,” is the perfect person to play a down-on-his-luck societal outcast who decides that he should become a superhero and make the world a better place. Ellen Page, who soared to prominence as a knocked-up teenager in a film that likened her to a pregnant superhero, is a fabulous choice to play his sidekick. Now what could go wrong with that start?

Somehow, everything. There’s not a thing in this film that works. It’s hard to fathom exactly where things went awry, but it’s clear that it happens pretty early into the movie. There’s a certain allure of the comic book universe that isn’t captured here, though the people behind and involved in the production seem to think they do a great job. Frank’s initial fascination with the world of comics shows through, but it’s all downhill from there. His sense of what it is to be a hero is hopelessly flawed, thanks mostly to a heinous introductory scene where divine inspiration causes him to don the costume of the Crimson Bolt and expose the world to his idiocy.

This comedy, if it can be termed such, includes a rather shocking and wholly unnecessary amount of violence that quickly turns it from less than amusing to disturbing. Libby’s excitement at the notion of brutality is particularly indicative of something the film doesn’t choose to touch upon extensively: that the way things happen in comic books isn’t the way they happen in the real world. Yet this film throws logic to the wind and chooses to adopt that sensibility to considerably miserable effect.

Both Wilson and Page have been very typecast in their careers so far and are likely to be typecast even more in their professional futures. Usually that’s a boon for a film, yet here it just disappoints because neither of them are anywhere close to their best, and seeming them turn in such poor portrayals is cringe-worthy. At least they’re trying somewhat, as opposed to Liv Tyler, who plays Frank’s girlfriend, and Kevin Bacon, who portrays her new boyfriend. The meshing of the meager performances and abysmal dialogue result in scenes designed to be hilarious coming off as at best awkward and at worst painful. There isn’t a positive moment in the entire film, and it’s a horrific experience from start to finish.


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