Super | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper


Anybody can be a superhero, in this semi-serious send-up

click to enlarge We can be heroes: Rainn Wilson as The Crimson Bolt
We can be heroes: Rainn Wilson as The Crimson Bolt

After his wife runs off with a gangster (Kevin Bacon), a sad sack named Frank (Rainn Wilson) re-invents himself as The Crimson Bolt, a masked crime-fighter. He's bumbling, but crudely successful -- enough so that he gains an acolyte, Libby (Ellen Page), who becomes Boltie. Their goal: Retrieve Frank's wife from the drug ring.

Super is written and directed by Troma vet James Gunn, who also made 2006's alien-slugs spoof, Slither. While it shares some plot with the much-slicker Kick Ass, Super is a darker, weirder animal.

It's one of those tricky works that is intentionally walking a very narrow line between send-up and serious; it's low-budget and lovin' it (so hooray for all the clunky acting and bad effects); and it aims to push buttons (cue uncomfortable sex scene). It's gleefully casual about violence while, at the same time, commenting on that.

Super's "heroes" are more damaged than empowered: Frank is spurred by his own demons as well as religious visions, and Libby just seems off her meds. It winds up in a "happy ending" that is also depressing. And somehow, this is all for laughs. You'll either find it amusing or you won't. I got the premise -- I could see the joke -- but I didn't find it funny in a satisfying way. Starts Fri., April 22. Harris

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