14 June, 2011

Super 8: Super Dumb is Fun

There were moments in SUPER 8 when I felt this was a movie hitting all the right beats. And almost every single one of them involved the kids just being kids in a real world where kids are kids. And then the movie decided, like so many kids type movies do, the adults are stupid and kids are super smart and like totally capable of like super duper skillsets they won't discover for a good 10 years!

Oh and if you are a cute kid, you apparently get frakin' ESP that allows you to home in on your crush like a heat seeking missile does with the sun (seriously, you can spoof a heat seeking missile by flying into the sun, true story).

But I am jumping ahead. The rest of this article will contain some spoilers, so if you intend on seeing the movie, stop reading now.

Still here? Good. Then you are either planning on saving yourself money or already downloaded the movie for free off the Internet thingy all the kids are talking about (yes, people tell me a good copy is already floating out there). I know it is only those two possibilities since no one actually paid to see this movie in the theaters (other than myself, of course, the sucker I am).

The movie starts somberly, with the sudden and violent death of the mother of our lead character, whose name I don't remember and will never need to commit to memory anyway since I will never watch this movie again. We will just call him Henry.

Crap, I just IMDB'd to find out the actor's name and in doing so found out that his character is named Joe. That is a bummer since I was really excited about calling him Henry.

Henry, played very well by someone I have never heard of, Joel Courtney, is friends with some dude, and another dude who likes to blow stuff up, and a fat kid who wants to be a director. Oh and in the process of making some movie for some blahblahblah, Henry meets the girl of his dreams, Alice, also played very well by Elle Fanning. I guess she is the sister of Dakota Fanning. Do I care? No. But she kicked some acting ass in this movie.

Actually, I think all the kids did a really good job. On that level, this movie rocks ballz.

As the kids go to make a little movie for some reason, using a super 8 camera (get it? that's why the movie is called that!), they discover hormones and love and other things that happen in movies about kids. Now, this is when the movie is at its best. When the kids are just being goofy little bastages doing their idiotic kid crap. And even this Henry's dead mom and Alice's alive dad subplot gets a tad interesting and the actors deliver believable emotion.

But then the movie gets into the monster stuff and it works for a little bit. Maybe even half the movie. Until you see the monster and then it just looked silly. It wasn't scary, except when we couldn't see it, and by then making the whole story about a more badass ET (than the wussy that was the ET) who just wants to phone home and snoozefest times the square root of stupid, I stopped loving the film.

Not to mention the fact that Henry so easily found where his dearest love was, or that every single piece fits perfectly into this puzzle so that every character can end up exactly where they need to be at the perfect time. Oh and that ending! Sappy doesn't begin to explain it. The whole necklace deal made me want to punch a monkey. A cute monkey, not one of those ugly ones, because that is easy.

Everyone can punch an ugly monkey.

But the credit sequence, with the "finished" film that the kids were shooting, was funny. It also reminded me why I first loved this movie and then slowly fell out of love with it. The best parts were before we saw the monster, or found out it was an ET trying to get home, or that it didn't actually kill anyone, just kept them around for... ummm... why did it keep them around? And that if you touched it, then you would understand it and it would understand you and, oh hell, ET PHONE HOME ALREADY!

About half the movie is very good while the other half is hit and miss. Very good acting all around. Big action. Sometimes scary. Mostly just dumb. But sometimes dumb is fun.

Addendum: I should add that one of my biggest gripe with this movie is that it should have been aimed at kids, not adults. This has too many expletives for a kids movie. And too many kids for an adults movie. I suppose that may be why it isn't doing big bucks at the box office.

77 out of 100


  1. I saw the film yesterday at a 6:00 showing in my local theater with only about 8 people in the audience. I hadn't read your review.

    I expected to like it so much more than I did. While it had some good parts, it mostly felt like something I had seen before...lots of times.

    I liked the 1979 setting. I liked the premise of kids making a movie. I used to do that back then and often talked my friends and family members into doing it. So, I could relate.

    Why the alien was capturing those people was never explained, as you pointed out.

    Maybe the whole, "kids being the heroes" thing at the end will work better with kids. I don't know.

  2. It just felt like a movie that was first conceptualized as "Stand By Me" for a newer generation and then turned into an alien action movie. Plus, too much action actually bores me.

  3. So you would actually hit this little fellow?