As a fan of both excellent, bad, and trashy cinema (Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind, Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead, and Hudson Hawk are all proudly on the same shelf), I am naturally a fan of James Gunn. Like John Waters before him, Gunn's list of films and internet contributions offer a little bit of all three, blended in different doses: Slither, Scooby Doo, Tromeo & Juliet, PG Porn, Humanzee, etc.
Naturally, I was looking forward to Super, Gunn's take on the D.I.Y. superhero a la Kick Ass and the Watchmen graphic novel (the film took liberties with the abilities of what were supposed to be normal people + 1 superbeing). Even with high expectations, the film blew me away. Unable to see it in the theater due to my market, I was nonetheless allowed the privilege of seeing it through IFC OnDemand's "In Theaters" category, and was not disappointed. Gunn's trademark profanity laced insanity is certainly present -- Ellen Page's psychopathic sidekick Libby would fit into any one of Gunn's films -- but also present is the heart of his more sophisticated works like Slither. Sophisticated is an odd word to use when talking about films that feature tentacle rape scenes or holy roller superhero hallucination scenes, but there it is. What's special about Super is that on this outing, the gratuitous insanity or sexual issues are turned down (while still present) and the heart gets turned up, as well as the emotional resonance. Even the arguably craziest scene in the film, where Rain Wilson's Frank experiences a tentacular brain rape from God, is powerful and moving in a disturbing sort of way. This is no doubt in some part due to Gunn being a sufferer of a rare and real condition whereby he has experienced strange visions at random intervals all his life. The violence is over-the-top to be sure, but serves an emotional purpose as well as a comedic one. By the end of the film, you will find yourself rooting for a man who has been driven to a violent, clearly insane depth in his life, despite the fact that you would never want to meet him. Super may just be James Gunn's masterpiece: violent, trashy, crazy, hilarious, sad, real, and triumphant.