Super Capers (review)

“Not too long ago, in an alley not too far, far away…” is what kicks off this brutally stupid superhero sendup, which consistently mistakes wholesale theft — from beloved geek favorites from Star Wars to Back to the Future to The Matrix — for creative cleverness. No, actually, it’s even worse: Writer-director-star Ray Griggs revels in the larceny, shamelessly. If this had been the work of a gang of ambitious 12-year-olds, we might pat them on the head and applaud their initiative and explain that next time, they need to come up with their own story, but Griggs is old enough to know better. Justin Whalen, who geeked out in a respectable way as Jimmy Olsen in Lois & Clark, here debases himself as Ed Gruberman, who is patently not a superhero but somehow manages to convince Powers That Be that he is worth courting as one, and gets sent to train with a gang of other useless rejects… though they do at least have superpowers, as ineffective as they may be. (Griggs’s own character? He blows up like puffer fish when he’s scared. There’s no evidence of how this dubious talent might be used to fight crime… or even how it might be used to send up notions about how caped crusaders might fight crime. It’s just randomly dumb.) In between hoary jokes that vaudeville audiences would have groaned at (a law firm called “Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe”? really?), the goofiest kind of overbearing cartoon music, and low-budget filler I thought had gone out with Ed Wood (a character sloooowly crosses a room to open a door, thereby adding 30 seconds to the runtime) is a pathetically ill-conceived story about finding oneself, which is apparently valuable even if yourself is a liar, a cheater, and a coward, as Gruberman turns out to be. This is allegedly aimed at the “family values” crowd, but I don’t want to be part of any family that values such things.

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