FILM REVIEW – SUPERCON. With Clancy Brown, Ryan Kwanten, Maggie Grace, John Malkovich, Mike Epps. Written by Zak Knutson, Andrew Sipes, Dana Snyder. Directed by Zak Knutson. Rated R for strong crude sexual content throughout, pervasive language, and drug use. 100 minutes.
SUPERCON is a broad comedy set at a ComicCon-like convention, where comic book artists, old TV stars, and has-beens make money meeting fans, signing autographs, and otherwise trying to cash in on their fleeting fame. For viewers familiar with this world, it should hit their sweet spot, providing plenty of knowing laughs about the “celebrities” who appear and the fervid fans who come out to see them.
For Adam King (Clancy Brown) it’s a chance to pull in some big money as the biggest of the fading stars to appear. He carries himself as if he’s still a big deal, and for the weekend, he is. For others, though, it’s a chance to make some fast money, although con promoter Gil Bartell (Mike Epps) is much more interested in lining his own pockets than in sharing the wealth. That sets in motion the film’s plot where a several of the lesser stars decide to rob the convention.
Keith Mahar (Russell Peters), for example, was sidekick as a child star, and now has trouble making ends meet. He’s told to wear a turban – as he did as “Hadji” – since otherwise, no one will recognize him. Ryan Kwanten, Maggie Grace, and Brooks Braselman, playing other faded stars, all have reason to resent King and Bartell, and plan an elaborate heist that’s part “Ocean’s Eleven” and part Road Runner cartoon. In fact, the proceedings are pretty cartoonish, which exactly fits the mood. They’re joined by Sid Newberry (a surprisingly cast John Malkovich), a comic book artist who has his own score to settle.
What makes the film fun is how it spoofs the whole world of fans eager to see the TV stars of their youth without making those fans the butt of the joke. Even those engaging in “cosplay” (i.e., dressing up as their favorite characters) are shown to be people having fun and wanting to rub shoulders, however briefly, with the actors who played their on-screen heroes. It’s the actors hustling for bucks who are the film’s target, particularly those like King who has nothing but contempt for his fans.
Indeed, while the ensemble cast is engaging, the one who steals the film is Clancy Brown. A hard-working character actor who often plays villains, he is usually taken for granted. Yet, as in the recent “Chappaquiddick,” where he plays one of the people advising Ted Kennedy, he is capable of much more than he’s usually asked to do. Here he gets to strut around like a pop diva, putting on his well-paying act for the public but occasionally letting the mask slip to reveal the small-hearted egotist underneath. It’s a great comic turn.
The formulation and execution of the heist are played with glee, as each of the players encounters problems and overcome them in surprising ways. The players not only have to make us see why their fans would like them (if they haven’t already forgotten them), but they have to make us like them so that we will want their plan to succeed. That they do, and if you’re familiar with the world the movie is satirizing, you feel like you’re among friends.
And perhaps that best explains why “Supercon” is a niche film that should score with its target audience.•••
Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books. His latest novel is Time on My Hands: My Misadventures in Time Travel. He is the 2018 recipient of the Skylark Award given by the New England Science Fiction Association. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.