The Super (1991) DVD Review: Low Rent Entertainment

The Warner Archive Collection raises the roof on Joe Pesci's flop.
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Epitomizing just about every bad decision made by the world of domestic entertainment in the early '90s to its fullest extent ‒ be it the questionable tastes in fashion and music or the peculiar, career-killing choice to cast movie tough guys in family-friendly comedies ‒ The Super stars the Joe Pesci no one really wanted to see.

Cast as the vehemently loathsome spoiled jerk son of a racist ol' New York City real estate magnate (gee, I wonder who served as inspiration for that?), Pesci is at his squirmiest, scene-chewing best here as Louie Kritski ‒ the slumlord of a lower-class apartment building. (You know, the "ghetto"?) After living high on the hog all these years thanks to the multi-story gift from dear old dad (Vincent Gardenia, in what would prove to be his final big-screen appearance), Louie finds himself knee-deep in poor ethnic people when he is placed under house arrest for failing to keep his building up to code.

But Louie's situation is a bit different. Staying true to the timeless idiom of having the punishment fit the crime (something we may have lost sight of, incidentally), the younger Kritski has to stay in one of his own run-down apartments, serving as the building's superintendent until the living situation for everyone has improved. Alas, little Louie is faced with a conundrum: his father, Big Lou ‒ the man who taught his idiot offspring to just sit back, collect the money, and do nothing for anyone else (again, I can't imagine who they're based off of) ‒ threatens to disinherit Louie is he replaces so much as a single light bulb.

Honestly, it probably worked better on paper than it did on-screen: The Super sank pretty low at the box office when first released in 1991, by which time audiences had grown to appreciate (and even respect) the villainous, cunning, violent Joe Pesci as opposed to the spineless weasley one we see here. Even by Home Alone standards, Pesci's comedic moments in The Super ‒ which are numerous, considering it's a comedy and all ‒ border on teeth-grittingly cumbersome to bare. As are the moments where he gets down with the hood folk to play basketball or (sigh) bust a move.

Needless to say, those cringe-worthy moments are the very things which have kept The Super around all these years among cult movie audiences. You might not be able to laugh at the movie because it's supposed to be funny, but you will undoubtedly find yourselves giggling a great deal over how bad the comedy from director Rod Daniel really is. Previously, Daniel had helmed Teen Wolf. After The Super failed to make more its $22-million (!) budget back, the late filmmaker was doomed to direct made-for-TV movies such as ‒ ironically enough ‒ Home Alone 4.

Ruben Blades, Madolyn Smith, Stacey Travis, Kenny Blank, and Carole Shelley also star in this comedy from The Simpsons co-creator Sam Simon and ‒ believe it or not ‒ When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle scribe Nora Ephron. Originally released to theaters by 20th Century Fox, The Super has resurfaced onto home video once more thanks to the Warner Archive Collection. The film is presented in an 16x9 1.78:1 widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, English (SDH) subtitles, and the original (and heavily matted) theatrical trailer in accompaniment. Oddly enough, the familiar Warner Archive logo is nowhere to be seen on the front cover of this MOD release.

At the end of the day, The Super isn't nearly as bad as certain other movies Joe Pesci may have had the misfortune of appearing in (cough, Gone Fishin', cough). On the other hand, it's certainly nowhere as good as My Cousin Vinny, either. But for those of you currently experiencing a bad case of '90s nostalgia or in the need of something less agonizing than our current form of reality, The Super may be the right guy to fix your problems.

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