By S. Jhoanna Robledo,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Uneven superhero film is wacky but violent, dark.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Given that this is a dark satire on vigilantes attempting to be comic-book superheroes, there really isn't much in the way of positive messaging.
Positive Role Models
The main character, although somewhat well-intentioned, believes he can prevent evil by wearing a superhero costume and smashing bad guys -- everyone from drug dealers, child molesters, and people who cut in lines at movie theaters -- in the face with a pipe wrench. His sidekick -- a 22-year-old woman -- wears a superhero costume and howls with maniacal joy every time they maim or kill someone they believe to be a criminal.
Violence & Scariness
Frequent violence throughout the movie. Early in the film, bullies are shown urinating on the head of a young boy. During a dream sequence, a man gets a poker stabbed in his neck; blood gushes out. Three bouncers are shown kicking and punching a man on the ground. Tentacles wielding razors slice open a man's head, pulling back his scalp to reveal his brain. Various criminals are hit in the head with a pipe wrench, causing bloody foreheads. In a dream sequence, the main character imagines himself being raped by other men in a prison. A detective is shot in the head by three bouncers. A woman dressed as a superhero slices a man to death with a makeshift claw. A man is burned alive. A woman's head is blown off by a gun. At the end of the movie, there's a mass shootout with many casualties. The lead criminal is shot in the crotch with a razor.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Early in the film, the photographer of a prom is shown having sex with the main character's prom date; her breasts are exposed. A woman tells a man that she wants to have sex with him and that she's "all gushy." She straddles the man and has sex with him, moaning and repeatedly saying she's going to "come"; there's no nudity during this scene.
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Frequent profanity: "f--k," motherf---er," "c--t," "d--k," "bitch." The "N" word is used at the end of the movie, as is the word "faggot."
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Products & Purchases
Some product placement, including In Touch magazine; comic book-series name-dropping.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A man shoots a girl up with drugs; the needle is shown penetrating her foot. Friends pass a bong around. One of the supporting characters is a drug dealer.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Super is a 2010 dark satire starring Rainn Wilson as a pipe wrench-wielding vigilante superhero named the Crimson Bolt. Although this inventive-but-uneven dramedy is being marketed as an edgy superhero flick, it's much darker than you might expect. In fact, it's sometimes downright dreary. That, plus the violence -- including gouged cheeks and eyes, bludgeoned heads, a gun battle, explosions, an imagined rape, and more -- as well as swearing ("f--k," "s--t," and more), sexual scenes (some partial nudity), and drug content (one of the main characters is shown shooting up drugs) make this indie flick too intense for younger teens and tweens.
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Where to Watch
Based on 4 parent reviews
Better than any other R rated superhero comedy (including Deadpool)
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What's the Story?
Frank (Rainn Wilson) can count on two fingers his happiest moments: the day he helped a cop capture a thief by pointing out which direction the thug went, and the day he married his lovely-but-broken wife, a former addict named Sarah (Liv Tyler). So when she leaves him for a drug dealer (a deliciously slimy Kevin Bacon), his entire world falls apart. The only way to put it together again, naturally (or should that be "unnaturally"?), is to don a makeshift red uniform, wield a jacked-up wrench as his weapon, and "fight crime" as the Crimson Bolt. Along the way, Frank picks up a frantic twentysomething comic-book-store clerk (Elliot Page) as his sidekick and makes plans to take Sarah back from the clutches of evil. But vanquishing drug dealers is one thing; winning his wife -- and his life -- back is another thing entirely.
Is It Any Good?
The first third of SUPER is promising, with enough subversion and outright wackiness to gratify viewers hoping for more than the usual superhero routine. Frank, played with surprising pathos by Wilson, is like no hero we've seen before, his choices both unpredictable and interesting. He's inspired to become the Crimson Bolt by two things: a psychedelic vision involving an eel-like creature, and a superhero series that appalls him with its insipid writing and bad acting. He wants to fight for good but sees nothing wrong with whacking two people who cut in line on the head until they bleed -- the same punishment he applies to drug dealers.
Then, two-thirds of the way through, the film takes a big turn, and suddenly everything and the kitchen sink is thrown into the mix. There's addiction-speak, cartoon whimsy, buddy comedy, sad sex, brutal (very brutal) violence -- and it doesn't all gel. Instead, it feels like the filmmakers loaded the car, gassed it up, drove full throttle, then jumped out at the last minute. The car bobs and weaves, pitches off the cliff, explodes, then suddenly softens. Say what? Exactly.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about what makes someone a hero or a villain. Which category does Frank fall into? Why do you think he's compelled to fight crime -- and are his methods justifiable?
Is the violence gratuitous or necessary for the movie's tone and feel? How does it compare to that in other superhero movies?
- In theaters: April 1, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: August 9, 2011
- Cast: Elliot Page, Liv Tyler, Rainn Wilson
- Director: James Gunn
- Inclusion Information: Non-Binary actors, Queer actors
- Studio: IFC Entertainment
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 96 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong bloody violence, pervasive language, sexual content and drug use
- Last updated: June 2, 2023
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