Director: James Gunn
Stars: Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page, Liv Tyler, Kevin Bacon
Last year, Kick-Ass earned acclaim for its subversive approach to the superhero genre, yet, when compared to genre veteran James Gunn’s bonkers Super, that Mark Millar adaptation is quite pedestrian. A fascinating mess of a film, Super ricochets around tones like a Pong ball, going for laughs, shocks, gore, and utter bleakness. Though it doesn’t all congeal, Gunn’s passion project is an odd little movie that’s too strange and ambitious to ignore.
Taking a break from playing the maniacal Dwight Schrute on The Office, an effective Rainn Wilson receives top-billing as a loser who becomes a homemade superhero to save his druggie wife (Liv Tyler) from the clutches of a slithery drug-lord (Kevin Bacon, camping it up something fierce); Wilson even gets a sidekick in Ellen Page, who goes all-out in a boisterous, kinetic, and unexpectedly sexy performance.
Gunn fearlessly goes off the deep end, working animated dream sequences, random outbursts of graphic violence, and unpredictable main character arcs (one, in particular, leading a half-blown-off face) into his gonzo script. At times, Super’s unwillingness to settle upon one vibe turns frustrating; ultimately, though, Gunn’s wild ride earns its singular stripes. It’s also the source of 2011’s catchphrase-to-beat: “Shut up, crime.”