Super (R) ★★★★

Review Date: April 1st, 2011

Super is compared far and wide to Kick-Ass, its cousin-of-sorts, and people have the right to do that. They're both films about losers without super powers attempting to become super heroes, but that's where the comparisons can and should end. However, I need one more to kick off my review. While they're both great movies with similar concepts, Kick-Ass takes a very stylized, comic book approach to the material whereas Super is treated as if it takes place in the real world with real world consequences. Both methods serve their respective narratives well and since we can enjoy both of these movies at the same time without taking away anything from either, we don't have to say which one does the concept better.

The film comes from writer/director James Gunn, previously responsible for, of all things, the awesome Slither and writing the better-than-expected live action Scooby Doo movies. The film follows Frank (Rainn Wilson), a down on his luck diner cook who decides to become a super hero after he watches his girlfriend (Liv Tyler) get taken by the town's local bad guy (Kevin Bacon) and then is touched by God (literally). He gains the attention of the local comic book store employee (Ellen Page - delightfully dirty) and soon they team up as the Crimson Bolt and Bolty.Gunn is considered a horror auteur and the film shows his roots. It's incredibly violent (and I do mean VIOLENT), gory (lots o'blood) and profane (Ellen Page in Juno - eat your heart out!) but also incredibly funny. The potentially off-putting thing about Super is how Gunn manages to weave each aspect into the story seamlessly. But isn't life like that? One minute you're laughing while beating up an old lady, the next you're sad because your dog died (none of those things happen in the film, but you feel those sentiments within minutes of each other). Some will detract the film for its tonal shifts, but that was exactly what Gunn set out to do. And I think he succeeded quite masterfully.The main thing about this film is that it works. Everything feels real, every move feels correct and all the characters are dynamic. While Wilson is playing another sad sack like Dwight Shrute that's about as similar as the two get. His violent outbursts create a character far removed from anything in Scranton. Page is the surprise ace-in-the-sleeve; she delves into the profanity and gore with glee. Everyone gets their own moment for a big laugh and a big action piece, even Nathan Fillion, who shows up in a religious subplot involving a Christian superhero. I can't stress how violent and funny (emphasis on both) this film is and how well it works together.My only problem is that towards the end it becomes a little too comic book-y (like Kick-Ass) but it is handled in such a realistic way that this is a very small complaint. To sum up, I present the notes (as a poem) that I started to take before I gave up and just enjoyed the movie:Opening sequence - amazingBurnt burgers give you cancerTentacle Rape PornHeartbreakingShut up crime! rated this film 4 stars.