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[Rating: 1.5/5]

“Super” is the next in a recent array of films about ordinary people who decide to become superheroes.  It’s just as violent and just a touch darker than “Kick-Ass,” but not quite as far gone as “Special.”  All of these movies are basically making the same point that the Batman comics have been exploring for decades: if you’re not blessed with special powers or a mandate from an intergalactic council, then really, aren’t you just a psychopath in a silly costume?

Rainn Wilson dials back the comedy to zero (or below) to play the protagonist; he’s an shy short-order cook who somehow finds himself married to Liv Tyler.  She’s an addict in recovery, until slick nightclub owner Kevin Bacon aids her regression.  This is the impetus for Wilson’s “transformation” into the Crimson Hood, but he doesn’t go after Bacon right away; first he brains a couple of people with a monkey wrench, for crimes like jaywalking, purse-snatching and cutting in line at the movie theater box office.  Wilson really wants to be a hero, and it bothers him to no end that evil goes unpunished in the world; what he lacks is a sense of porportion.  This all sounds, and feels, very familiar.  Give Wilson credit for making it halfway believable.

Enter Ellen Page, the comic book clerk who figures out Wilson’s secret identity and insists on being his sidekick.  This is where the movie morphs from darkly humorous and slightly overstated to outrageous and gross.  Page makes Wilson look positively restrained and afraid to act; she nearly kills a young man because he might maybe have keyed her friends’ car.  And she’s sexually aggressive, basically rapes Wilson in an almost unwatchable scene, and then dies a grisly death that seems straight out of one of the “Saw” films.

“Super” is a film about unbalanced people doing outrageous things in the name of justice; its filmmakers seem equally unbalanced and outrageous in their filmmaking.  Some odd folks will find this to be a virtue of the film; it’s unapologetic, that’s for sure.  For me, it started off wobbly and ended almost unwatchable.  You don’t have to offend me to get my attention; you don’t have to gross me out to communicate.  This movie does both.

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