In 2010, we were introduced to one of the best films of the year, Kick-Ass, as well as the future of female actors, Chloe Grace Moretz. Playing Hit Girl, the infamously foul-mouthed pre-teen assassin, Moretz nailed the role perfectly and that will forever go down as my favorite performance of that year.
2011 gave us the flip side of what seemed to be the same story. Whereas Kick-Ass celebrated its unrealistic nature and extreme cheesiness, James Gunn’s new film Super revels in realism. Starring Rainn Wilson, the film follows a loyal husband named Frank D’Arbo, a fry-cook at a local diner. When his wife, Sarah (Liv Tyler), falls for a manipulative drug dealer named Jacques (Kevin Bacon), it’s up to Frank to save her from Jacques, but more importantly from herself.
To do this, he becomes a “superhero”, under the name The Crimson Bolt. He spends his first few nights hanging around dumpsters waiting for crime to come to him, with no luck. Inspired by a Christian TV star known as The Holy Avenger (Nathan Fillion), Frank searches for meaning in life, as well as what he can do to help the innocent people of his city.
One day, while at a movie theater, a man cuts in line to much disapproval from the rest of the people behind him. Frank, in a misguided act of heroism, changes into his Crimson Bolt costume in his car, grabs a large wrench, and bludgeons the man on the head, causing his skull to split open. This well-meaning but ultimately daft and vigilante behavior lands Frank a spot on the local news, which labels him a dangerous vigilante.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and the only way that Frank has any chance of getting Sarah back from Jacques is to accept an offer by a local comic book chick named Libby (Ellen Page) to be his sidekick. A borderline psychotic young girl, Libby, whose superhero name is Boltie, begins hatching a plan with The Crimson Bolt, who has now adopted the catchphrase “Shut up, Crime!”, to get Sarah back once and for all.
Super, which is Slither writer/director James Gunn’s new film, is a darkly hilarious and brutally violent film about the chemically imbalanced vigilante in all of us. Rainn Wilson plays a distressed husband pushed to the point of violence perfectly, and his onscreen chemistry with Ellen Page is comedy gold. Previously sharing the screen with her for a scene in 2007’s Juno, it’s good to see them both starring in a movie together because from that one scene in Juno, I knew they would do well together if they co-starred with each other in a dark comedy. These are the things I daydream about don’t judge me.
Kevin Bacon is great as usual, playing a good villain with a particularly toothy smile. His sometimes dim-witted cronies make for some pretty great laughs, especially when they come into contact with Frank in the explosive climax. James Gunn’s directing is perfect for a film like this, previously displaying his action/comedy chops in his first feature film, Slither.
Super is probably not everyone’s idea of a good time. Some will find it dull, some will find it too brutal or realistic for a comedy film. Some will even find it to be completely unfunny with its dark punch lines and physical comedy. I’ll give you a taste of what you’ll be seeing; Super contains the funniest rape scene out of any movie I’ve ever seen. Take that as you will, but it’s true.