Superhero Movie
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Superhero Movie

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Sometimes in life you just have to kick back and let yourself be silly. After a day at work praying that your firm isn’t ready to downsize you put on the evening news to find war, natural disasters and even more economic bad news. It is times like this a foolish, puerile flick may be just the right thing. It helps an adult go back to the more carefree days in junior high school when a scatological or sexual gag was funny. This is when you need a flick like ‘Superehero Movie’. It is true that this film will never be on any top ten lists, except, perhaps for bad movies. It is rude, crude and socially unacceptable but if you are in the right frame of mind, funny. Okay, a few pizzas and a keg of beer will help a lot in the viewing if you are of legal age of course. The primary audience for this is naturally high school boys and college guys. It is rift with jokes that they will find amusing. For adults it is a chance to return to that junior high school kid at least for 90 minutes or so and forget the troubles of the world. This movie is part of the resent trend of parodies that have crowded the Cineplex over the last few years. You all know the type. They cram as many pop culture and popular movie references as humanly possible. To date there have been take offs of horror flicks, action movies and of course one of the original themes, the airplane disaster film. It was only a matter of time until the current most popular genre, the superhero flick, was targeted by this type of satire.

At least if you are going to make a movie like this it is best to get someone who has experience with the format. In this case the producers found the right guy in the person of Craig Mazin. Prior to writing this scrip he came up with the third and forth installments of the ‘Scary Movie’ franchise. Now many found them tedious but there is a certain charm to a parody. Actually, his scripts are in an extremely misunderstood genre, the farce. With this type of movie you don’t have to worry about things like character development. You don’t even have to make sense. All you need is the ability to ridicule something that people enjoy. Mazin also wrote ‘Rocket Man’, the lamentable flick that featured Harland Williams. This just demonstrates that he is willing to write something that most people will hold in distain. You need a thick skin like this if you are getting into farces. In this script Mazin manages to ridicule just about every super hero around. The main character is a rip off of Spider-Man but there are also a few X-Men clones running around and a couple of Fantastic Four ringers. In a very real way this film reminded me of the old MAD magazine parodies I used to read as a kid. They were also silly even bordering on stupid but they were funny. The main reason behind the humor was the spoofs were demonstrated an understanding of what made the real movies work. This takes the elements of what we loved about the actual movies and twists them around holding them up to ridicule.

Mazin also worked here as the director. Once again he has the resume to back it up. His only previous work in direction was a little cult classic, ‘The Specials’. If you haven’t seen this make sure you do. It was about a group of superheroes bit the catch was they were only about the sixth most popular or powerful super group around. The idea of a bunch of losers with superpowers was inspired. He uses many of the same directorial style here. The superheroes depicted here are nerds, misfits and generally incompetent buffoons. Mazin obviously knew he was not making great cinema so he kicked back and had fun with the movie. The jokes come at the audience in rapid fire fashion. You barely have enough time to stop laughing at one before the next two are upon you. This works well here before it doesn’t allow the audience the time necessary to think about the sight gags and jokes. You don’t really watch this movie you experience it. He also steers clear of the standard for films like this with only one crotch hit that I can remember. Another advantage of the fast pace is when a joke fails, and more than a few will, there is always another right there to give it a go. It takes a special kind of twisted mind to come up with something like this and Mr. Mazin certainly has it.

The film begins with Rick Riker (Drake Bell) running for the school bus. The driver stops short so Rick slams face first into the mirror. He has a nerd and the ultimate klutz and everyone in school uses him as the butt of all their jokes. He has always had a crush on one of the prettiest girls in school, Jill Johnson (Sara Paxton). Unfortunately she has a jock boyfriend, Lance Landers (Ryan Hansen) and barely knows Rick is alive. His only friend is Trey (Kevin Hart), another nerd. This day they are on a field trip to a scientific research center. The tour is given by Dr. Strom (Brent Spiner) who takes the class to a very special experimental area, the animal genetics lab. Lance’s father Lou (Christopher McDonald) is the CEO of Amalgamated and a brilliant scientist. He is seriously ill but tries to hide it. He is also fond of Rick because of their shared interest in science. Rick is bitten by a genetically enhanced dragonfly and the next morning awakens to discover he has all their abilities; he is now a superhero. Rick is an orphan and lives with is Aunt Lucille (Marion Ross) and Uncle Albert (Leslie Nielsen). Meanwhile Lou is revealing his new invention to the board of directors. It is the total cure and it will not only save his life but make the company richer than ever. It cures him but at a price. Now he retains his life but stealing the life force from hapless victims. He becomes the super villain, The Hourglass. Back at home Rick is feeling strange so he checks online and is contacted by Professor Xavier (Tracy Morgan) who runs a school for superheroes. You pretty much know how this is going to turn out. Rick establishes his super power and dons a tight green costume and become ‘The Dragonfly’.

Don’t go into watching this flick with any anticipation of greatness. It is enough that it is funny in a sufficient number of spots to make it worth while for a hoot. You get Pamela Anderson as the invisible girl getting into a fight with Mrs. X, foolish but funny in a bizarre way. There is Wolverine (Craig Bierko) using his claws to shave his legs. It are gags like this that work in this setting; working because it takes the superhero universal on a strange ride to the absurd. The film is the Dimension Films division of the Weinstein Company and Genius Products. Usually they go for the little Indy flicks but in this case they offer a flick that you might have been embarrassed to see in the theater. Okay, no one is looking. You know you want to see this movie. We all deserve a guilty pleasure so go for it.

Posted 06/30/08

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