Super Civil

This week’s movie is not a 99c one. I rented it last Saturday in sore need of a pick up after spending, like many people,  much of Friday agape as the shock results of the U.K. Referendum, as Brexit rolled in.

The movie was Superbob and the premise was simple. Bob was a postman from Peckham until one day a meteor strike gave him superhero qualities. Now Bob works for the Ministry of Defence as a superhero, performing various acts saving people around the place, except on Tuesdays.

The film is a small British indie flick, and has a British sensibility and humour as it pokes fun at the normalcy of British life juxtaposed against the expectations that come with being a superhero. Because Bob works for the MoD, he is technically a civil servant, and that means paperwork – cue humourous montage of Bob rescuing various people from burning buildings and then asking them to sign for it on a device like the ones couriers use.

The main thrust of the plot is while Bob is a cheerful and unassuming chap, he is keen to find love, but desperately shy around women. Fortunately, because Bob works for the civil service, he does get a day off – Tuesday. The film follows him on one such Tuesday as he tries to secure a date and then actually go out on it. When work threatens to interrupt his time off due to a looming diplomatic incident caused by an aggressive visiting American statesman, and his mum living in sheltered accommodation demands some quality time with her son, it makes for a very long day.

The film is good fun, with a strong comic cast – Catherine Tate plays his M15 minder and PR manager, and Brett Goldstein is the likeable lead. At 82 minutes it does not overstay its welcome and  has a couple of genuinely tender moments which ensure that the film’s lead characters are ones you end up rooting for. Given the short run-time, it does not have time for much nuance with its supporting cast and the national stereotypes are about as subtle as a falling wall.

The film adopts the style of a documentary, inconsistently. One minute, there are interview pieces to camera, but then then format conveniently forgets itself and reverts to straight narrative. There are a lot of the same types of gags: set up the superhero expectation through nods to the genre, then undercut it for humour, but despite being worried that the best gags had all been shown in the trailer, I found myself chuckling throughout and warming to the gentle and endearing quality in Bob’s character.

There are plot holes you could fly a superhero through, but the film asks less of the viewer than it gives back in entertainment. A good film for a Sunday night when you want to wind down and feel better about the world or a weekday treat to remind yourself that sometimes the nice guys win – if only because they have their own finish line.


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