Review: Super 8 is this summer’s Indy 4

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06.08.11 57 Comments

Wow, you guys.  Did I miss the memo that Super 8 was a kids movie?  Because I must admit, with all the hype, the super-secret teaser trailers, the squeals of the Lost fanatic, no-spoiler gestapo (relax, I’m not going to ruin anything for you, freaks), I never heard the part where JJ Abrams was making a really expensive Disney Channel movie.  Because that’s what Super 8 seems to be.  Either that, or a painfully earnest, non-comedic parody of 30-year-old Spielberg films where the hot new element is “LENS FLARES!”

All you really need to know about Super 8 is that at one point, it commits the cardinal sin of “YOU JUST DON’T GET IT, DO YOU!”  But blah blah plot summary wank fart (*snooze*).  Okay, so there’s this group of kids. Each of them has a paper-thin gimmick disguised as characterization.  For instance, there’s a fat kid who says “Mint!” every five seconds, an ugly kid with braces who loves fire, a pussy who vomits, and a protagonist who keeps his dead mom’s locket with him wherever he goes (thank God every dead chick in sh*tty movies carried lockets or else no one would remember them).  All interactions between them seem designed to make sure you don’t forget their central conceit. EXAMPLE:

(*external threat*)

“Have you seen my mom’s locket?”




(*puke, cry*)

(*audience laughter*)

Occasionally they do this with additional stock characters in the background, such as a secretly-deep hot girl, an alcoholic father with a terrible secret, a used car salesman with a bad toupee, the slutty older sister from That 70s Show, a stoner, bratty twins, a stern cop, etc.  Anyway, the main group of annoying kids is hard at work helping the fat one direct a zombie movie, and one night, they’re filming a scene at a train station between Deep Hot Girl and Vomit Pussy that Lardass says he wants to time to coincide with a passing freight train, saying he wants it in the shot for “production value,” which I assume means “unusable audio.”  While they’re shooting, Dead Mom zones out, probably thinking about his dead mom again, and as he takes his eyes off Vomit Pussy’s terrible acting, he sees a pick-up truck about to play chicken with the oncoming train.  The train hits the crappy pick-up truck going full speed and, as movie physics would dictate, derails while its cars break apart and explode into a billion flaming train nuggets.  After the crash, the now-dirty-faced (this will become a theme) wiener kids, once they finish vomiting/praising the explosions/gripping their dead-mom lockets, survey the damage.  The One Without A Gimmick says “What the..? A truck can’t derail a train!”

To which another one glibly responds, “Yeah… well apparently it can!”


As I assume you already know, there’s an alien-monster (NO SPOILERS!) on the train, which JJ tastefully keeps hidden for the first two-thirds of the movie, presumably so that we might experience the full range of predictable interactions between grating clichés, and keep the trained seals in the audience clapping their flippers together every time the ugly kid says something about fire.  HAHA, GET IT? HE LIKES FIRE. From there, some evil soldiers come, the wiener kids fall in love, and a wild-eyed science teacher drives his Delorean around the moon or something, I wasn’t really paying attention.  I think at one point they pulled off the alien’s mask and it was really Old Man Jenkins from the abandoned amusement park.  HE WOULD’VE GOTTEN AWAY WITH IT, TOO, IF NOT FOR THAT FAT KID SAYING ‘MINT’ A LOT!

This is the film currently tracking above 80% on RottenTomatoes?  I’m so confused. Does watching someone hammer decades-old clichés make you feel young? Give you a child-like sense of wonder?  Because it makes me feel old and bitter, as the realization sinks in that I’ve developed both critical faculties and life experience since I saw ET.  GAH, DREW BARRYMORE USED TO BE SO HOT!  I can only assume the Super of the title refers to what a Super-Supercut of bad movie clichés this whole thing is.  Besides the aforementioned “YOU JUST DON’T GET IT, DO YOU”, we’ve also got:





That scene where one kid backs into something, turns around to see that it’s a corpse, opens his mouth to scream and his buddy has to cover the first kids’ mouth and stifle his scream to keep the bad guy from hearing them.

“What’s a zombie?”

Okay, that last one isn’t a cliché per se, but only because it’s so insanely idiotic that it doesn’t get used very often.  But aside from the clichés, the plot is just really dumb and nonsensical.  I’d tell you all about it, but I know the Lost pussies would cry their no-spoilers tears and short out my server.  SPOILER ALERT: Super 8 sucks.  The only thing remotely interesting about it is the alien-monster, who quickly becomes as hackneyed as everything else once we learn anything about it.  Imagine Lost if it was just 20 minutes of buildup and then the finale episode.  In the alien-monster’s absence, we’re left with painful, after-school-special-level drama between the wiener kids, all set to a twinkling piano that I wanted to tear apart and shove up JJ Abrams’ ass one key at a time.

But aside from that, I really liked it.

Grade: D

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Vince Mancini is a writer, comedian, and podcaster. A graduate of Columbia’s non-fiction MFA program, his work has appeared on FilmDrunk, the UPROXX network, the Portland Mercury, the East Bay Express, and all over his mom’s refrigerator.

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