Review: Super Capers makes a heroic effort at humor, but its jokes are powerless

If Super Capers were a multilevel satire, perhaps a spoof of spoof movies, then not being funny would be a brilliant stroke of commentary. Presumably it's just supposed to be the one-layered spoof, in which case not being funny actually doesn't work in its favor.

The story tells the origin of wannabe hero Ed Gruberman (Justin Whalin), who joins the Super Capers to learn how to really fight evil. Along the way, they mimic popular movies and portray superpowers as ridiculous pratfalls instead of badass heroics.

To the film's credit, at least it comes up with an original story in the universe it is spoofing. It's just not good. Even the Meet the Spartans variety of spoof gets it right a few times in its 65-minute running time. Super Capers actually has really good visual effects and makeup to mimic the world of superheroes, but it's just not funny.

Super Capers does not even have basic comic timing. Setups are slow, and payoffs come on a seven-second delay. That poop is just sitting on screen waiting to be stepped in for an unacceptable length of time. There is so much footage of the characters standing around, they could shave 20 minutes out of the film and at least got to the nonjokes faster.

The filmmakers add cartoon sound effects to the action, because there'd be no joke otherwise. Actually, Scooby-Doo scampers and cash register ka-chinging don't count as jokes either. They even point out that it's Star Wars they're quoting, because it's so clever you might not catch the subtleties of verbatim dialogue from the most successful films of all time.

The acting pushes Super Capers from unfunny into truly annoying territory. They have character actors hamming it up when they should know that the joke is playing it straight. Some of the supporting players seem to get the one-dimensional characters they're playing. However, Whalin plays Gruberman like a children's party clown, preening with no irony, yet so proud of himself that he really seems to think it's funny. Well, in this economy, actors need to work, so God bless him.

All this criticism doesn't really matter, because Super Capers is not a real movie. Upstart indie filmmaker Ray Griggs got it together, so it's done, but a few local theaters is not a real release. Maybe if it stood out it would exist beyond the DVD bin or Comedy Central's slow weekends, but it's not hurting anybody where it is.

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