For weeks now, that tag-line has been taunting me from the cover of my DVD copy of Super (2010), making me chuckle every time it caught my eye… and now, at long last, I’ve actually seen the movie it was taken from!
For those who don’t know, this darkly comic action flick stars Rainn Wilson as ‘Frank D’Arbo’, a gawky short-order cook who has had exactly two perfect moments in his otherwise miserable and misbegotten life… the first was marrying a beautiful waitress named ‘Sarah’ (Liv Tyler), who also happens to be a recovering addict, and the second was pointing a policeman in the right direction, to pursue a fleeing felon. Frank is inspired to enshrine these memories in crayon form, and pin them to his bedroom wall, shortly before Sarah leaves him for a smarmy drug-dealer, named ‘Jacques’ (Kevin Bacon). As his life collapses around him, and he flips through various random cable channels, Frank experiences a holy vision, in which the divine thumb of God implants an idea in his troubled mind: It his destiny to become an avenging angel of justice, to rescue his wife from a backslide into druggy depravity, and to make crime “shut up” once and for all! Unfortunately, he hasn’t been blessed with any supernatural powers to aid him in his rather violent vocation, so he has to resort to braining do-badders with a heavy wrench and then running away as fast as his weedy legs will carry him. While gathering research materials at a local comic book store, he attracts the attention of ‘Libby’ (Ellen Page), the rather off-kilter clerk… who eventually becomes his not-so-trusty, slightly-psychotic “kid sidekick” (there’s a neat joke about her being too old for the gig, because she’s actually in her early-twenties… though obviously Page is petite enough to play a lot younger, if required).
As for Page’s performance… I truly believe she is one of the greatest actresses of her generation (Top 5, at the very least), and if a star of her wattage took an interest in my low-budget indie flick, I’d probably cast her too, but I’m not convinced she was necessarily the best fit for this particular role. I would have preferred someone with a natural aura of twitchy intensity, rather than Page’s button-cute cleverness. It’s not that she can’t bring the intensity when she needs to, or that she did a bad job here… in fact many proper critics praised her performance… I just couldn’t help wondering how someone like Emily Perkins would have played the role in her stead.
The top press quote on the DVD cover declares that this movie is “Far better than Kick Ass” (according to Reeling Reviews), but I don’t think it’s really fair to compare them like that. Obviously they both begin with a similar premise, and the basic plot arc is the same… but they have very different tones, and very different sensibilities. I’d have a hard time choosing between these two movies myself, because they’re both so funny (in a slightly sick, guilty sort of way) and so engrossing. I think Kick Ass is more thrilling, but Super is more mentally/morally stimulating… it gives you less of an adrenaline rush, but more to mull over while you’re eating your post-movie pie! Whether that’s “better” or not depends entirely on your mood at the time, and what you’re looking to get out of the experience.