It’s time to catch up with another movie from last year that I wasn’t able to see because it wasn’t released here in the US. This is a little independent comedy from Grain Media and first time director Jon Drever. Often, I think to myself that there’s almost nowhere new that a superhero movie can go, it just has to do something that’s been done before well. And while there have been several concepts out there about a loser who gains super powers to become a superhero, there hasn’t been anything that’s gone quite the same way about it that Superbob does, and that’s not even discussing the pseudo-documentary style of it either. I initially wasn’t sure what to expect from this movie, but the nervous charm of Bob made me laugh quite a bit throughout the film and it has a nice heart at the center of it all. A pleasant surprise of a movie and currently available in the US to stream via Flix Premier.
This is another film that uses the documentary style to tell its story and it does contain one of the more annoying tropes where there are several points throughout the film where it steps outside of the story to make sure the audience knows that it’s a fictional film in a documentary style where the characters comment on the filmmaking itself. Like early on when we are introduced to Superbob’s liaison at the Ministry of Defense she mentions that they aren’t allowed to use her name or her job right after stating her name and her job. Though it is interesting that this time around the documentary filmmakers aren’t actually a part of the story themselves, but instead they remain anonymous and just let the characters play out themselves where we only occasionally hear their voice.
The core of the film is that it’s about the least likely person who gets super powers. Bob is not only socially awkward, but he’s also at the mercy of British bureaucracy. He requires all of the people he rescues to sign a waiver and doesn’t entirely have the best PR campaign. Not only that, but the most interesting part of this set up is that because he is essentially contracted under the British government, that the US views him as a weapon of mass destruction that they don’t have any control over. He’s even under a legal mandate to have Tuesdays off where he isn’t allowed to do any superhero-ing. It’s well tied in as the underlying story to the main thread about this love story. But what’s great about it is how it all ties together, from his missed meeting on his day off creating this government PR disaster that culminates in an actual mini-disaster where he happens across a fatal car accident where he’s not allowed to help because it’s happening on his aforementioned day off and he sits by this woman’s side as she succumbs to her injuries. Even though it’s unlikely that he would have been able to save her, it’s presented as a very touching moment and a surprising counterpoint to the rest of the lighthearted tone of the film.
What the core of the story is revolves around Superbob’s love life, or lack thereof. Pretty much the only women in his life are his cleaning lady named Dorris and his handler Theresa. But the documentary learns of his first real date after six years to a librarian. The discussion surrounding their courtship also exemplifies his social awkwardness as he reveals how he had essentially been stalking the library for weeks, working up the courage to talk to her and borrowing books that he wasn’t even reading, while she ends up being the one who finally asks him out on their date. But there is the more obvious angle between his casual friendship with Dorris which comes as no surprise when he ends up realizing that she is the one he should really be with. There’s even a great moment that combines his awkward nature with a feminist angle when he makes a joke about how many men she has been with and she goes off on him about the double standards which speaks so much about her as a character. But even as there are plenty of romantic comedy cliches, it does do enough here and there to subvert some of those expectations. One of the best moments is when Bob finally makes the decision where he choose Dorris over his job, he comes to find that her ex has taken her back, and as he describes why he decided to come back to her, it is exactly what you would have expected Bob to say to her.
There is quite a bit to like about this film, even though it’s about a superhero it’s mostly about the characters. There are very few moments of special effects, but they are handled quite well, both when we get to see Bob start to hover above the ground in a few casual moments, as well as some of his more dynamic take offs and landings. But what this film really gets right is the character. Bob is just the right amount of awkward to be extremely charming, whether he’s completely messing up a speech for an anniversary at the home for the elderly where his mom resides that continually refers to the two of them dying, or the fact that Dorris herself set him up for that failure as revenge for pretending to be his girlfriend in front of his mother. The comedy itself also hits a lot of the right beats for me, from the absurd humor of Bob singing at an all Black church choir to the timing of him talking to the camera about how the choir let out early when they resume practice without him, to the more subtle moments like the government mandated, overweight security guard who constantly has Bob open things for him like jars and potato chip bags. It is very low key and the humor won’t be for everyone, and just the overall oddness threw me off for nearly the first half of the movie, but once I got on board with Bob as a character I really started to enjoy this film and I think you might too. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.