I need to admit, that I’m not the most up to date guy on all things nerdy. With having three small kids, I tend to find new things to fall in love with after they’ve been out for a couple of years. With that being said, over the last couple of days (yes, it takes me that long to get through a movie) I had the chance to finally jump on Netflix and check out a movie I’ve wanted to see for quite some time, Super starring Rainn Wilson. Super is the story about a somewhat schizophrenic (that’s not intentional, but when you watch the movie you’ll totally agree.) diner cook, named Frank D’arbo, who becomes “divinely inspired” to become a super hero after his wife leaves him for a local drug dealer.
The only expectations I had as I started this movie were two things; it was probably going to be funny, and that the poster reminded me a lot of the movie Kick-Ass. I consider myself a pretty dark humored guy, but this had more of that Quentin Tarintino violent comedy about it. That stuff is funny, but I didn’t find myself laughing out loud that often. There were some good laughs here and there, specifically a scene where Frank(Rainn Wilson) has a detective show up on his door and he imagines what might happen in the prison showers, but for the most part there is a very serious overtone about it. Let me be clear, I really liked this movie. While it may not have been the overly funny comedy I was expecting, I genuinely enjoyed the story line.
From the beginning scenes you follow Frank through the pain and confusion of his wife leaving. There’s not a ton of clarity as to why Sarah (played by Liv Tyler) left Frank, but it’s clear that the new man she is with Jacques (played by Kevin Bacon) is not completely a good guy. What I love most about this part of the film is the acting by Wilson. I’m so used to him playing the power hungry Dwight Shrute on the Office that I never thought about how good of an actor he really is. He captures the sapless and frustrated Frank D’arbo perfectly. After an outright begging session in the middle of the street with Sarah, Frank retreats to his home and finds himself watching a Christian super hero TV show, The Holy Avenger. The Holy Avenger is honestly one of the funnier parts of the movie, because let’s face it Christian TV is about as sincere as a naked clown. This is the beginning of Frank’s adventure into creating his pipe wrench slinging alter ego The Crimson Bolt.
I don’t want to sit here and go through the whole story line with you, so I won’t. I do want to mention that Ellen Paige is in this movie as a psychotic fan girl who becomes the sidekick to The Crimson Bolt known as Boltie. She nails this role. Her over excitement about fighting crime, being a super hero, and trying to be sexy in her costume, made me think of what every nerd would feel like if they took the leap of becoming a super hero.
I think that’s why I love this movie so much. It really did a great job of showing how an average, slightly mentally unstable, Joe can become a super hero. They did a great job of making it realistic. HBO did a documentary on real people who actually dress up to fight crime called Superheroes (which if you haven’t seen that you need to). Super could have been substituted in its place because of how realistic it felt. On the first night that the Crimson Bolt goes out to fight crime he sits behind a dumpster for hours with no luck. I don’t think you could portray real life, amateur, crime fighting any better. He hand sews a suit together, grabs a weapon, and goes out to hide in the shadows; only to find that there isn’t that much crime that goes on. Another thing was that his weapon, a pipe wrench, inflicted real damage. In most super hero movies there isn’t much blood. You usually see punches, kicks, super natural hammers to the face, without much physical damage being done in super hero flicks; in Super that is not the case. Every strike thrown by The Crimson Bolt inflicted real world damage and you kind of felt bad for the people it was happening to. After watching Super, you realize superheroes would have to be some kind of crazy to deal the punishment that they do.
There are a lot of great things about this movie and honestly I can’t cover them all, but luckily for you this movie is on Netflix right now and is totally worth a watch if you’re looking for an original hero story.