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As the Marvel movies are beginning to demonstrate, superheroes are not immune to aging. Steve Barron’s satirical comedy, about four elderly superheroes who are forced out of retirement, carries that notion to its logical extreme. Featuring a stellar cast including Tom Berenger, Beau Bridges, Louis Gossett Jr. and Fionnula Flanagan, Supervized is never quite as inspired as it should be, but it offers some amusing moments along the way.
The film establishes its irreverent bona fides from the beginning, with a credit sequence featuring comic book-style graphics and an opening shot of Berenger’s bare ass (which, even the actor would probably admit, has definitely seen better days). His character, Ray, is one of the residents of Danmanor, an Irish old age home for superheroes that advertises itself with the slogan, “A Super Place to Retire.”
Release date: Jul 19, 2019
Ray, who in his former life saved the world numerous times under the moniker “Maximum Justice,” now mostly hangs around and kibitzes with such fellow residents of the home as Ted (Bridges), aka “Shimmy,” his former sidekick, and Pendle (Gossett), aka “Black Thunder,” his longtime rival. That rivalry is immediately rekindled by the arrival of their mutual former flame Madera (Flanagan), aka “Moonlight,” who has lost none of her allure and sassiness with age. Upon spotting the two men, she sardonically comments, “Two ex-boyfriends under one roof — what could possibly go wrong?”
The retirement home’s young manager (Fiona Glascott) rules the institution with an iron hand, making sure that its residents’ superpowers are “downwardly managed” to prevent any mishaps. But when one of Ray’s friends dies under mysterious circumstances, he persuades his buddies to once more don their now ill-fitting costumes and spring, or at least hobble, into action.
Supervized earns its R rating with its frequently raunchy humor, like the old men leering at one of the female residents whose “superbreath” inspires one of them to muse, “Imagine the blowjobs!” That she still has some of her former abilities is made evident when she accidentally propels her dentures across the room.
That’s an example of the hoary old age gags littered throughout the screenplay co-written by Andy Briggs and John Nivens, which also attempts to tug at heartstrings with a subplot involving Ted being diagnosed with terminal cancer. Although that plot element proves treacly rather than touching, there are some genuinely poignant moments, including Ray observing to his friends that they’re all now gaining a superpower endemic to old age, namely invisibility.
Less effective are the climactic sequences featuring the superheroes in action, which are marked by the sort of cheesy special effects that seem destined for mockery on a future episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Although, to be fair, they’re executed with some visual flair, which is not surprising considering that director Barron’s credits include 1990’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and such landmark music videos as A-Ha’s “Take on Me” and Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.”
What makes the film work to the extent that it does are the charming and amusing performances by the veteran performers who, while they certainly deserve more dignified material, go through their comic paces here with admirable conviction and good humor. But while Berenger, Bridges and Gossett are all fun, it’s the distinguished Irish actress Flanagan who steals the film with her gleefully irrepressible turn as the still sexy Moonlight.
Production companies: Merlin Films, Riley Productions
Distributor: Freestyle Releasing
Cast: Tom Berenger, Beau Bridges, Louis Gossett Jr., Fionnula Flanagan, Elya Baskin, Fiona Glascott
Director: Steve Barron
Screenwriters: Andy Briggs, John Niven
Producers: Steve Barron, Kieran Corrigan
Executive producers: Robert A. Halmi, Jim Reeves
Director of photography: Sam Renton
Editors: Catherine Creed, Mark Davies
Composer: Ed Harcourt
Casting: Alex Johnson, Louise Kelly
Rated R, 84 minutes
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