SUPERBOB

7.5 out of 10

Release Date: 15th October 2015

Director: Jon Drever

Cast: Brett Goldstein, Catherine Tate, Natalia Tena, Laura Haddock, Ricky Grover, Christian Contreras with Ruth Sheen and David Harewood

Writer: Brett Goldstein & William Bridges

Trailer: SUPERBOB

superbob-movie

Based on a really, really potent short-story, SuperBob the feature stretches the idea of a Peckham postman who gains superhuman powers when hit by a meteor to 90 minutes with a good degree of success. Brett Goldstein (ADULT LIFE SKILLS) is perfectly cast as the mild mannered postie, and we get to follow him on his day off (Tuesday) as he goes on a first date with an American librarian (LAURA HADDOCK – GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY) and fields calls from his angsty handler at the MoD (CATHERINE TATE – BIG TRAIN). Another woman in his life is his bolshey cleaner, (NATALIA TENA – YOU INSTEAD) who keeps him down-to-earth.

The storyline doesn’t pit him against an Earth-threatening nemesis, its pits him against PR and a paranoid American government who are twitchy about the UK owning a ‘super-weapon’…  Its also about how he’s controlled by his government inspite being the strongest man on Earth. It’s also a romantic comedy and a very good one too. It has some cringy ‘David Brent’ style moments that mostly work but occasionally don’t. Sight gags are thin on the ground but the writers and producers have opted for something a little different.

By the end you’ll love the main character and the eventual outcome of the story. It’s a low-budget success that tries something new and succeeds. That it struggles to recapture the vital humanity and personality of the original short film is a shame. The first film conveyed a lot of the same messages as the feature but even though SuperBob isn’t as genius as it’s progenitor it’s still one of the most enjoyable films of 2016.

There’s a very good scene when he’s setting a date to meet his new girlfriend and gets flustered at how to end the call. But I won’t throw in any spoilers because the whole film is littered with great small moments (no big ones).  And that’s why it’s a success. SuperBob tickles rather than forces you to laugh and in the end it truly understands how the public would react to SuperHero and that’s with an arched eyebrow.

7.5 out of 10 – Enjoy this small comedy about the joys of being a British superhero, it may have the potential to be your favourite film that nobody’s ever heard of before.

Review by Matt ‘SuperDiv’ Usher below

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

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One thought on “SUPERBOB

  1. Review by Matt Usher

    In their notoriously unfunny sketch show James Corden and the other one had a regular series of skits where two superheroes (I think Superman and Batman but forgive me if I don’t check – they really were dreadful) would bump awkwardly into each other at the supermarket and converse in idle, stilted, embarrassed tones (whether the superheroes were embarrassed because of the emotional requirements of the scripts and the state of their characters, or the actors were embarrassed because they’d only just realised how bad the lines were that they’d written for themselves, I cannot say). The sheer awfulness of those sketches (and I only watched two or three of them) will probably never quite leave me, but that awfulness is compounded by the fact that the idea is pretty good. The Americans can easily do the whole superhero thing, whether the superhero’s day job is as a millionaire or a janitor (and also a dog) (Hong Kong Phooey is sadly under-rated), it just works. Of course a mild-mannered journalist can rush off and save the day with his super powers. And there’s no reason why an American postman couldn’t do the same (please don’t tell me whether there’s an American postman-superhero – I don’t care). But a British postie? Impossible. Can’t be done. Except for comedy value. So a Corden and Horne style sketch about British superheroes chatting in a shop should have been hilarious. And so, by that logic, should SUPERBOB, a film about a British superhero ex-postman. Unfortunately, it’s not hilarious, but it is quite funny – and sometimes very funny – and surprisingly sweet and endearing.

    The premise is that a mild-mannered Peckham postman (Bob) has been struck by a meteor(ite) and, instead of being obliterated, has been imbued with a fairly standard array of superpowers (thus becoming SuperBob). The joke is that though there is no attempt to disguise his ne abilities he remains an inconspicuous non-entity: the people of Peckham know him as the superhero postie, and they are resolutely (and Britishly) unimpressed. The film takes the form of a mockumentary for the most part (but the film-makers can’t be bothered to keep up that premise slavishly: there are plenty of shots which are obviously not meant to be part of the documentary). We follow SuperBob on his day off. This primarily revolves around him preparing for a lunch date with a local librarian who has asked him out (Laura Haddock, sporting a seemingly unnecessary American accent which turns out to be hugely important). Along the way we meet SuperBob’s rubbish security guard (Ricky Grover – much better here than in his weird vanity vehicle BIG FAT GYPSY GANGSTER) and cleaner / carer (effectively), Doris (a spiky Natalia Tena). Could there be a love triangle forming here? (Not including Grover alas.)

    Meanwhile SuperBob’s boss at the Ministry of Defence, Catherine Tate, is having a difficult day dealing with the Americans, who think the powerful postman is a superweapon and they’d quite like to have one of their own. Typical. There’s an American politician, who is meant, I guess, to be a send-up of the likes of John McCain and Newt Gingrich and who comes out with moderately silly statements. But we are in the era of Donald Trump (hopefully for only a few more days) so the satire in these bits now seems almost quaint (though there’s a bit of post-truth politics when the senator complains about SuperBob smashing up a school –despite him doing so in order to save a few lives). The satire is, by today’s standards (and I mean today specifically, today being a day when Trump has decided that not being impressed by Mrs Clinton’s rear is a sure-fire vote winner) (dear God it probably is) all a bit sweet-natured and old-fashioned (like the film) (actually the film is sweet-natured and old-fashioned and would have made a good kids’ film if they’d removed the swearing). The bad guy’s worst trait is that he’s a tad bombastic. Oh for a politician whose worst trait is a bit of bombast! Sorry, I’m drifting.

    Elsewhere the film-makers throw in Ruth Sheen as our hero’s mum (in a very, very nice care home) and David Harewood as a newsreader (always a good device if you can’t afford to show stuff), so you’ve got a good cast who could have done with a few sharper jokes and some more biting satire. But in the end the film’s strengths are elsewhere, i.e. when it’s a romantic comedy with a rubbish superhero at its centre.

    This should be a natural British genre – the superhero film where the superhero is constantly undercut and belittled, where the superhero is unimpressive both in his superhero persona and in his day-to-day guise. But somehow the film makes heavy weather of it, possibly because, given the budget, it couldn’t really do much in the superhero part of the story, though I do quite like that all the superhero-ey stuff happens off-screen (about the only special effects are our hero taking off and landing once or twice). Maybe there could have been a few scenes of him bumbling about in Peckham, failing to save cats up trees or something like that. It just needed a few more silly down-to-earth set pieces to demonstrate the film’s joke; instead it spends a bit too much time telling us what the joke is.

    Brett Goldstein, as SuperBob, is likeable if one-note. Actually that goes for everyone in the cast. That’s the sort of film it is, one which has some excellent moments (there are some good throwaway gags) but not much in the way of a strong through-line. What I mean is that if you stay to the end it’ll be worth it, but I’d quite understand why a lot of viewers might switch off before the half-way mark. So yet again another enthusiastic recommendation from me: this is a quite good film if you’re feeling indulgent and don’t mind it not being as good as it probably ought to be.

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