Right off I’ll confess my complete and total abject hatred for this movie. I mean—if I’d been in a theater when watching it, there’s a high likelihood I would have walked out on it. I’ve walked out on a total of two movies in my life: The first was David Cronenberg’s Crash (not the other piece of shit with the same title that won the 2005 Oscar for best picture, the cloying, ham-fisted shit-stain that it was, I never saw that one in a theater, I’m proud to say), the second was Quentin Tarentino’s Death Proof, which, if you remember, was the second half of the double-feature released as part of Grind House with Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror, which was awesome, and made walking out of Death Proof a virtual requirement, so as to allow the glories of PT to remain intact without having Tarantino’s normally effective and poignant dialogue—which in Death Proof come across as cloying and ham-fisted—ruin the entire experience. Death Proof was a director trying too hard to be himself-esque, Crash just had a shitty premise. Yes, I knew the premise before I paid to see it, I just didn’t realize until I was actually seeing it just how retarded the premise was. So yeah, I walked out on both.
Secondly, let it be known from henceforth that the reviews I post here all need to be read with a spoiler alert being a possibly unspoken given—I want to talk about movies and books and music and whatever else without having to worry about ruining your experience with the film or book or album or leaked celebrity porn video. Got it? Good. Let’s do this.
Where was I? Oh yes. I hated this movie. I hated it so fucking much. But for whatever reason I couldn’t turn it off. I HAD to see what was going to happen next, had to see if it could somehow redeem itself or prove that it did, after all, have something even closely resembling a point. And in the end, despite all previous indications that it was basically shat out of a meth-riddled psychopath’s actual ass, there was a semi-tidy wrap up offered, a voice-over supplied over a montage of touching images wherein the protagonist antihero offers his sum-uppance of everything you’ve just been subjected to—but my god, it was SO UNSATISFYING!!! Allow me to explain.
The movie starts with Rainn Wilson, who’s somehow married way out of his league to Steven Tyler’s daughter, best known as Arwen in the LOTR trilogy. You can tell from the start that they’re screwed. There’s no way this can last. The marriage is a perfectly evident crime against nature and humanity itself.
So within the first 10 minutes Arwen dumps Dwight Schrute for Kevin Bacon, a drug dealer who has everything Dwight doesn’t. He agonizes, he prays to God, he has some truly unhinged hallucinations. Then he decides to become a superhero, The Crimson Bolt, picking up Juno along the way as his profanity-loving 22 year old side-kick, Boltie—all with the goal of once again saving his true love from her drug addiction (that’s how he got her in the first place, it turns out—by “saving her” from her addiction).
Now, while the aforementioned is a perfectly serviceable plot, especially in our self-referential, post-Tarantino era of comparatively well-made superhero movies, the problem (for me anyway) lay in the way that there seems to be no discernible moral center to the film, and I mean AT ALL. Crimson Bolt’s weapon of choice is a massive pipewrench, which he wields mercilessly against child molesters, drug dealers, purse snatchers and line-butters alike (BTW, this is the first time I’ve heard it referred to as “butting” in line, as opposed to cutting in line). Basically, Dwight takes out his anger at being dumped and alone on absolutely everyone who even slightly pisses him off. When the girlfriend of the guy he decked for “butting” in line starts freaking out, he hits her in the face with the wrench too. Boltie, his evidently amoral sidekick, cheers him on. My favorite line from the movie actually comes from her: “You tell everyone you know! That anytime some stupid fucking bastard wants to commit some gay ass crime that Crimson Bolt and Boltie are gonna be there to crush their little fucking evil heads in!”
Juno soon after seduces Dwight, basically raping him, and when the deed is complete, he runs to the toilet, pukes, and in this post-rape toilet puke he halucinates the face of his estranged wife. That’s when he decides he must save her and the movie really goes off the rails (as if it remained on them past the first twenty minutes, natch). Crimson Bolt and Boltie make some pipe bombs, buy some guns and head to the drug dealer’s mansion, where Kevin Bacon is closing a massive deal with an African who wants, as part of the deal, to fuck Arwen. So that happens, against her will of course. And then, as the dynamic duo approach the compound, they are shot at and we are given this to chew on.
I mean WTF, right? Dwight shoots, blows up, and beats to death every drug dealer and stooge that comes across his path. Then he finally corners Kevin Bacon who almost gets the best of him before he shoots a metal projectile into his nuts, then sits astride him before stabbing him to death.
Kevin Bacon: You really think that killing me… stabbing me to death is going to change the world?
Dwight/Crimson Bolt: I can’t know that for sure unless I try!
And then he stabs him to death.
In the epilogue we are informed that Arwen only got back with him for a couple of months before leaving him again, but that this is what was meant to happen—that she was meant to have this beautiful life helping people and raising a family and people like Dwight, evidently, are meant to be alone and owners of domesticated rabbits.
Now, a couple of things need to be said, in fairness. I believe I approached this film, as I understood it from the previews, with the understanding that I would see a guy who was wronged find it within himself to become a bigger, better human being, and that it would be funny, the various hijinks he would get into while trying to become this person. Instead, I watched a movie where a guy becomes unhinged, takes part in helping an otherwise innocent young woman get killed, and then falls into the acceptance of his life as being a helpless shlub. Yet I couldn’t help but continue thinking about the film long after I first watched it. Was it stupid? Yes. Was it needlessly, some would say sadistically, violent? Yes. Did it have completely pointless scenes and overuse of comic book BLAMMO lettering at random moments? Yes. I mean, in so many ways SUPER truly comes across as though it was made by a person literally strung out on some serious drugs. And that’s when I found out that the director, James Gunn, had recently gotten divorced from Jenna Fischer, better known as Pam on The Office…which just goes to show that, in show business as with everything else, it really is all about who you know…
But anyway, here’s my theory, and my recommendation—starting with theory. Ever heard the story about Roman Polanski’s directing a film version of Macbeth, during the shooting of which his wife, Sharon Tate, was brutally murdered by the Manson clan, and that because of this act of violence hitting so close to home, Polanski made Macbeth more and more violent as the movie went on? Ever heard that? Well I’m theorizing that much the same thing happened here. Except Pam wasn’t murdered, she just left James Gunn for a drug dealer. Or maybe just Jim.
Recommendation: See it. If for no other reason than so I can debate its merits or lack thereof with you. Also, side note—the director first came to notoriety for writing and directing the Troma classic Tromeo and Juliet. So maybe that explains the violence. Maybe he’s like the movie equivalent of that guy who rewrites classic novels using zombies and other undead. Maybe Super is the troma version of Juno. But I doubt it.