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Confessions of a Superhero [DVD] 
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CONFESSIONS OF A SUPERHERO is a feature length documentary that chronicles the lives of three mortal men and one woman who make their living working as superhero characters on Hollywood Boulevard. This deeply personal look into their daily routines reveals their hardships and triumphs as they pursue and achieve their own kind of fame. The Hulk sold his Super Nintendo for a bus ticket to LA; Wonder Woman was a mid-western homecoming queen; Batman struggles with his anger, while Superman's psyche is consumed by the Man of Steel. Although the Walk of Fame is right beneath their feet, their own paths to stardom prove to be long, hard climbs
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"Confessions" focuses on four aspiring actors--or, more accurately, four Hollywood star wannabes--who land in Tinseltown in pursuit of their dreams only to wind up on the streets working the tourist trade as costume-clad superheroes. One of them, Superman is wacky, although in an almost endearing way. One of them, Batman, is a frightening character who has violent tendencies and seems to be a compulsive liar as well. One of them, the Hulk, is a charming young black man who lived on the streets for a while. And the last of them, Wonder Woman, is a naive kid from the south who ran off to Las Vegas to marry a guy she'd met two weeks earlier. The Hulk and Wonder Woman break your heart, Superman is a jaw-dropping eccentric, and Batman is just plain creepy. But all four of them attest to the downward spiral that the obsession with fame and fortune in an unforgiving culture of celebrity can bring. This spiral is even more poignant given that it leads the four to pose as superheroes, which is exactly what they're not in reality.
Ogen never mocks his subjects, and that's good. He doesn't make value judgments about their lives or the choices they've made. If anything, his film suggests that he's more sympathetic to them than not. But it's also clear from the film that he agrees with the conclusion the viewer is likely to come to: each of the four "superheroes" is living in denial. The unstated but obvious challenge Ogen leaves us with is to ask ourselves whether our own dreams are as self-serving, tawdry, and ultimately unrealistic, as those of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Hulk.
The men playing Superman and Batman do look a bit like low rent versions of Christopher Reeve and George Clooney. Superman is a very likable oddball who claims to be the late actress Sandy Dennis's son despite the fact that she had no children and her surviving relatives know nothing about this man. Batman admits to an anger management problem and confesses to a dark past that his own wife estimates is about 50% true but this viewer would guess the truth percentage is even lower and most of the information in this past seems to have popular movies as its source. Jenny who dresses as Wonder Woman is a pretty if slightly plump (by Hollywood standards) young woman who left her small Tennessee town to pursue acting in LA. She is much more in touch with reality than Batman and Superman though she is frustrated in the lack of positive movement toward her acting dreams and we see her young marriage break apart. Joe McQueen is the fourth member of the quartet, a formerly homeless African American man, who wears a suffocatingly hot Incredible Hulk suit and seems the character most likely to actually find some Hollywood success and is cast in a movie during the course of the documentary. A major strength of the film is it avoids seeming condescending to its subjects and only a bit of the superhero's home lives seems staged. This is a great documentary for anyone interested in the lower layer of Hollywood or people living out unusual life choices.
At times this documentary is one part funny, and one part scary, and one part just plain old sad. To hear each of these people tell their dream of becoming a famous actor the second they got off the bus to Hollywood, and then thinking that they sorta "made-it" by now walking around Grauman's Chinese Theatre (only allowed on the public sidewalk no less) in their home-made costumes can sometimes make your heart sink for them. And to see these guys, especially self-proclaimed former Italian hitman (not confirmed either) Batman, getting stiffed for a tip and watching him get violently irate can be a frightening expierence. I kept thinking to myself, "Aren't they just a little bit insane?" and the answer is probably, at least a bit mad. But you gotta give it up to them, especially Superman, who even goes to a Superman convention and gets married there, yes in that damn costume too, takes every bit of it as seriously as if he'll be starring in Superman V:The Quest For Dignity. Definitely worth 100 minutes of your time.
The documentary flows along nicely and it chooses to focus on the four people who dress up as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and The Hulk although there is some brief footage of a woman who dresses up every day as Marilyn Monroe and another who wears a Sesame Street Elmo costume. We get to know them as they tell their stories to the camera and we learn even more about them as we watch them interact with people on Hollywood Boulevard. These people would love to be full fledged actors making huge amounts of money in movies; but the reality is that the competition for juicy, lucrative roles is so tight that they have to stay with the work they currently do dressing up as comic book characters for photos if they want to make money doing something that makes them happy.
The person who touched me the most with their story would be Joseph McQueen who dresses up as The Hulk everyday. He's had it rough--four years of homelessness on the streets of Los Angeles with apparently no family to send him money for even just basic shelter with a roommate. The temperature inside his costume is almost unbearable during the long hot days of summer; in one scene he tells the people playing Superman and Wonder Woman that he "blacked out" at a nearby restaurant. The heat does get to the others, too. Will he make it into a movie? Watch and find out!
Another interesting story would be that of the gentleman who plays Superman. He says he's the son of actress Sandy Dennis even though Sandy's own brother never heard of her having any children at all! Christopher Dennis has decorated (and dedicated) his cramped apartment completely to Superman and very similar action figures prominently displays on the walls. He certainly gets emotional about playing Superman and we see how he's tearful when Christopher Reeve passes away. We also meet his girlfriend Bonnie and watch as he enters a look-alike contest in Metropolis, Illinois--will he win? What's in store for him and Bonnie--and his job as a character actor posing for tips on Hollywood Boulevard?
Two other people we learn so much about would be Jennifer Wenger who dresses up as Wonder Woman; her hasty marriage to a young man might not always bring them happiness. How will this work out? We see that she's got herself a Hollywood agent and she's trying out for commercials--will she get a break? In addition, Maxwell Allen dresses up as Batman; but when he looks for more serious work as an actor he must contend with the fact that he looks too much like George Clooney to get acting jobs. He also has an anger management problem and on one occasion he fights with other people so badly that things don't exactly go smoothly for him.
The DVD comes with numerous extras. I particularly liked "When Bonnie Met Superman;" "Superman Loves Bo Duke" and the audio commentary with Christopher "Superman" Dennis and his wife Bonnie.
Confessions of a Superhero explores the topic of what it would be like to actually grow up to be the superhero you always dreamed of when you were a kid. Are you really that type of person--or are you not? Of course, it is also about actors struggling to get themselves recognized in a market that is remarkably highly competitive.
The film explores what it's like being superheroes on the street, as they take tips for pictures. Some go about it more aggressively, even ending up getting arrested for "aggressive begging". The movie also goes into the personal lives of the four interviewed.
Christopher Dennis (a Christopher Reeve look-a-like) is the veteran street performer out of the four, having played Superman on the streets for years. It shows his home and his huge Superman collection. He says that he is the son of the late actress Sandy Dennis, but it is never truly proven whether that is fact or fiction. Sandy's relatives are interviewed in the movie, but they have no knowledge of Chris. It is still a possibility that he is in fact her son, because she was a private person, but in the end you just have to make your own decision. It doesn't really matter anyway, because Chris is a real nice guy and it shows the entire film.
Maxwell Allen (a George Clooney look-a-like) got into the "superhero" business by becoming friends with Christopher Dennis. He has an interesting story, which has a dark past. Whether you can believe most of what he says as fact is another thing that is up for questioning. The things that he says, even his wife doesn't 100% believe. Such as how he has killed a man who hurt his ex, but you won't find evidence because he was able to make a great cover up.
Joseph McQueen walks the streets as the Incredible Hulk. He has it worst of all since he is in foam, even blacking out while working due to the 106 degree heat. Jennifer Gerht is a beautiful woman that got into this so that she could be famous in Hollywood. This lifestyle seems to effect her most of all, even costing her a marriage by the end.
Call it pan handling. Call it street performing. Call it anything you want. By the end of the movie, you will love these people anyway. They are just normal people who have chosen this as a job and have succeeded in some ways at making their dream come true. "Confessions of a Superhero" never makes fun of these and that is part of the charm.