Super is a film I never expected to like, as it just looked too ridiculous for words and I’ve never got into the American version of The Office, which also features its lead actor, but when I saw the trailer it really grabbed me.
Frank D’Arbo (Rainn Wilson) is a dorky chef in a dog-eared diner who feels he’s losing his wife, Sarah (Liv Tyler), from his affections, as she’s hanging out with idiots smoking from bongs and gets a visit from her dealer, Jacques (Kevin Bacon). She’s a recovering alcholic and drug addict and when he tries to prise her away from Jacques and co, ends up getting beaten up by her junkie friends.
Later on, he sees a Jesus-freak kind of superhero named the Holy Avenger in a daft TV show and it inspires him to rise up and take charge. After buying a Holy Avenger comic at ComicSmash!, where young Libby (Ellen Page) works, she derides the artwork and in the midst of the conversation says, “Why doesn’t someone just stand up and become a *real* superhero?” and something is set off in Frank’s brain to do just that.
As a result, he becomes The Crimson Bolt and tackles evil with a cry of “Shut up, crime!” while brandishing his weapon of choice, a red-painted monkey wrench. I thought at first that Super was going to be a bog-standard 12-cert comedy, but some strong language and the very strong violence within – such as using it to attack a man for cutting in line at the cinema – bumped it up to an 18-cert.
Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page bounce off each other very well – especially when she dresses up as ‘Boltie’ to become his ‘kid sidekick’ – while Bacon and Tyler are okay but are really there just to bump up the numbers. There are also brief turns by Michael Rooker as Abe, one of Jacques’ henchmen and, in the role of Frank’s co-worker Hamilton, Andre Royo, best known as Bubbles from The Wire. Finally, an even more brief appearance from ER hottie Linda Cardellini as a pet store employee.
As for The Crimson Bolt, I saw a similar thing on a recent Channel 4 documentary, where idiots dressed up in bizarre outfits and walked into town to ‘fight crime’, one guy wasting his evenings doing that rather than spend time at home with his wife and new-born baby. These people clearly needed a reality check. Of course, Frank needed one too, but then he doesn’t have much of a life to miss out on.
Overall, Super is well worth a watch but does drag a little at times.
Running time: 96 minutes
Released: July 2011
Director: James Gunn
Producers: Miranda Bailey and Ted Hope
Screenplay: James Gunn
Music: Tyler Bates
Frank D’Arbo/The Crimson Bolt: Rainn Wilson
Libby/Boltie: Ellen Page
Sarah: Liv Tyler
Jacques: Kevin Bacon
Abe: Michael Rooker
Hamilton: Andre Royo
Pet Store Employee: Linda Cardellini
The Holy Avenger: Nathan Fillion
Detective Felkner: Gregg Henry
Jesus/Guy in Line: Matt Moore
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.