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Super

a film by James Gunn

After former addict Sarah (Liv Tyler) relapses and runs off with drug dealer Jacques (a superbly hilarious Kevin Bacon), her bewildered hubby Frank (Rainn Wilson) sees visions of a cable access Christian superhero, The Holy Avenger (a never unmasked, ridiculously wigged Nathan Fillion) and after a few trips to the local comic shop to glean advice from manic fangirl Libby (Ellen Page in serious need of some Ritalin), dons a homemade bright red patchwork latex costume and becomes the costumed monkey wrench wielding vigilante The Crimson Bolt. Super is the movie Kick-Ass wanted to be, or at least the movie it should have been - a dark (surprisingly much darker than this critic expected) and daring film about a sad and lonely man's rather incompetent (or perhaps a bit too competent at times) fight against everything from child molesters and mobsters to line butters and people who key ex-girlfriend's cars.

One would be hardpressed to find a better person to play this titular heroic incompetent than Rainn Wilson. With his strangely sincere insincerity and unique comic timing that plays almost as if he is trying to not be funny (which of course makes it all the funnier) as well as both character and actor's overall pathos, one could say the tenderly lumbering Wilson was perhaps born to play such a role. As for the young Miss Page, who plays The Crimson Bolt's thrust upon kid sidekick, Boltie (though her first choice of name is the brilliantly absurd Creeping Bam), the actress brings to this agitated, but thoroughly heartfelt role a rather unnerving blend of unbridled moxie and a pitiable sexuality (writhing around in her skin tight - and admittedly sexy - costume, trying to seduce her oafish superhero idol, Page is able to make sexy and creepy temporarily coincide in one petite body).

James Gunn's film may have an uneven feel to it (though probably not on purpose, it kinda works as a metaphor for Frank's miswired mind) and it may seem a bit rushed at times (showing more of the dynamic between Frank and Libby and/or more of their rather inept crimefighting would have made for a more complete feeling movie) but its twisted take on vigilantism (and these guys are not fucking around - Kick-Ass's Big Daddy and Hit Girl may have more style and more fighting ability, but these two clowns will beat you into ICU with a wrench and crush your legs with their car - The Crimson Bolt's tagline of "Shut up Crime" is taken seriously) and Wilson's subtly bravura performance as a misguided, albeit nobly so, ass-kicker (and if you think you are going to get a nice lesson-learned ending where everyone comes up smelling like the proverbial rosebush, think again - like I said, these guys are not fucking around) makes this little, mostly (and sadly) ignored movie well worth the hour and a half one would put into watching it. [04/27/11]

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