1999; Rated PG-13; 92 Minutes
Molly Shannon: Mary Katherine Gallagher
Will Ferrell: Sky Corrigan/Jesus
Elaine Hendrix: Evian
Harland Williams: Slater
Mark McKinney: Father Ritley
Produced by Albert Botha, Susan Cavan, Erin Fraser,
Steve Koren, Lorne Michaels and Robert K. Weiss; Directed
by Bruce McCulloch; Screenwritten by Steven Wayne
by DAVID KEYES
it comes to television, "Saturday Night Live" has a following
the size of "Star Wars" and "Blade Runner." Mention the
show's name, and one would likely reminisce in the days
when Jon Belushi, Dan Akroyd and Bill Murray were part of
the weekly program, lighting up the small screen in ways
that no one could have foreseen. Now that those days are
gone, and the big cast stars have moved to other projects,
one has considerable difficulty appreciating the ongoing
series. No longer are cast members and special guests charming
our Saturday nights. The show has practically degenerated
into self-parody, seldom amusing and almost never generating
a laugh. If it is true, as a critic pointed out, that older
shows linger on television simply for their reputation rather
than for their new material, than this is a show that does
nothing to disprove it.
the series is pitiful, than the movies based on their popular
skits are something else entirely. Many a moviegoer have
suffered through a handful of pictures based on skits from
the show, as they are the kinds of demented, unfunny comedies
that you would expect to emerge from the mind of Jim Carrey.
The fact that they lack plots to carry the duration of a
90-minute film only deadens the potential for humor.
the endless set of movies continues on--from "The Blues
Brothers," to "Wayne's World," to "Blues Brothers 2000,"
and others. There's usually a four or five-year gap in between
each, but so is not the case with the newest one, which
comes only one short year after that verbally inept "A Night
At The Roxbury." "Superstar" was dreaded by practically
every critic upon its arrival, and why shouldn't it have
been?--Molly Shannon's "SNL" character, a geeky Catholic
high school girl named Mary Katherine, is one of the most
clichéd and uninvolving identities that has ever embellished
a screen. If a film like "A Night At The Roxbury" could
be one of the worst comedies of the decade simply because
of its dialogue, then what could we possibly expect from
interesting happened here: I laughed. I was amused. I wasn't
exactly enthralled, but that's nothing to be surprised about
when attending a film based on a 9-minute television skit.
After nestling the story to its absolute limit, the movie
explores its character in a way that no television episode
can--with a touch of depth. There is some considerable laughter
here, brought on merely by the performance of Molly Shannon,
who takes an uninvolving character and virtually recreates
it every step of the way. It doesn't take a genius to see
that this may very well be the best step an actor of "SNL"
has taken to ensure their movie's effectiveness. "Superstar"
isn't always effective, but taken into account that this
is another entry into a series of dead-zone, plotless comedies,
it nourishes some of us.
Catholic school girl only has one dream in the movie--to
French kiss the captain of the football team (Will Ferrel).
Her efforts to accomplish that task are also part of a plan
to gain recognition and popularity. She gets involved in
a school program for the talented, where annoying little
quirks and disgusting habits erupt in front of her peers
(she puts her hands under her arm pits, for example, and
then smells her fingers when she gets nervous). Meanwhile,
she is carrying a job at the local video store, and somehow
missing the little clues an admiring fan of hers is passing
on (he's more of a crush than a fan, actually). The football
captain's girlfriend, a high-riding cheerleader, is also
involved, ensuring that every step Mary Katherine takes
is a stumble or trip.
surprisingly, the movie is constructed around a plot about
as complex as boiling water. But there is a precise delivery
of mild humor nonetheless, as some of the quirks presented
by Shannon have a zany edge to them, even though they are
meant to be stupid gags that should have just gone over
our heads. Do we owe the thanks to the writers as much as
we do Shannon? Not really. I repeat in most of my reviews
of bad comedies that, if aware of the bad material they
are caught up in, actors can sometimes enliven the idiocy
and earn our respect. You've heard the expression, and now
this is evidence.
by Bruce McCulloch, "Superstar" is the kind of movie that
the "Saturday Night Live" generation has wished for with
every moronic effort--something that actually manages to
be funny, even with a plot that supports less than eight
minutes of footage. We shouldn't expect much of a film based
on television comedy, since most are bad anyway, but "Superstar"
is a surprise, both for rigid "SNL" fans and skeptics of
skit-comedy-turned-movie. There are some laughs here so
big and so surprising that it reopens a door of hope for
the future of "Saturday Night Live" movies. Someday, these
filmmakers might even incorporate an actual story into them.
1999, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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