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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this superhero action comedy, while not particularly thrilling or creative, is age appropriate for tweens. The hero ultimately makes the right choices, and there aren't dark, complex issues like those you'd find in a movie such as The Dark Knight. Expect some mild sexual innuendoes and salty language ("bitch," but no "S" or "F" words), as well as several cartoonish fighting scenes. Guns are also flashed, and one character combusts and turns into ashes. The lead character appears to have the power to make prayer come true, but it's played for (attempted) laughs. One character smokes a cigar.
What's the story?
After being arrested for hitting a would-be thief, faux superhero Ed Gruberman (Justin Whalin) is thrown into a halfway house for crime fighters in training. But everyone else -- vain-but-strong Will Powers (Ryan McPartlin); half-man, half-fish Puffer Boy (writer-director Ray Griggs); super-smart Herman Brainard (Samuel Lloyd); and sexy Felicia Freeze (Danielle Harris) -- actually has powers, while Ed's still trying to find out what his are. He and the rest of gang tool around the city in a time-traveling van to rescue folks in danger, and on one mission, Ed discovers he may have the power to make prayers come true. Or does he? Meanwhile, the dark side beckons, and the judge (Michael Rooker) who sentenced Ed may have already crossed over. And what's his connection to the Dark Winged Vesper, Ed's favorite TV superhero of all time?
Is it any good?
Unfortunately, the animated opening credits are the most entertaining part of this clunky action comedy. It aims for winking, knowing humor but comes off cheesy. The script's nonsensical, even for a spoof. Not that it's clear that the movie is meant to be a spoof. Whalin is so earnest that he's off-putting, and the same goes for nearly the rest of the cast, except for Lloyd, who somehow manages to keep himself above all the inanity.
Two good things about SUPER CAPERS: First, its references to sci-fi/adventure classics like Back to the Future (the van has a Flux Capacitor), Terminator (one robot speaks like Ah-nuld), Return of the Jedi (the costumes, some of the dialogue), and Batman (Adam West makes an appearance as an ex-superhero named Man Bat who now drives a Batmobile-like cab). And, second, the end credit sequence, which features the theme song to The Greatest American Hero, which is arguably one of the funniest and quirkiest superhero shows of all time. Unfortunately, Super Capers isn't in the same league.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how this movie compares to other superhero tales. Is it meant to be a spoof? How can you tell?
Does it have the same messages as other superhero movies?
And how does the violence in this movie stack up to that in other similar movies?
Families can also discuss why it's so important to Ed to have special powers. What about being a superhero appealed to him? Why do you think he resists when he's given a chance to go to "the dark side"?
- In theaters: March 20, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: July 20, 2009
- Cast: Justin Whalin, Michael Rooker, Ryan McPartlin
- Director: Ray Griggs
- Studio: Roadside Attractions
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Superheroes, Adventures
- Run time: 98 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: mild language, some rude humor and brief smoking
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.