Superstar Movie Review

The most palatable entry since "Wayne's World" in the seemingly unstoppable onslaught of "Saturday Night Live" sketches turned into feature films, "Superstar" is genuinely funny, for a change.

This time the beaten-to-death, three-minute bit stretched to movie length is about "SNL"-er Molly Shannon's terminally dorky catholic school girl Mary Katherine Gallagher, who is desperate for her first kiss and determined to break into showbiz through performing in the campus "Stamp Out Venereal Disease" talent show.

Dumb? Naturally. But director Bruce McCulloch ("Dog Park") -- an alumnus of the Canadian sketch show "Kids In the Hall" -- gives "Superstar" a different comedic sensibility than "A Night at the Roxbury," "Coneheads," and the rest of the "SNL" big screen tripe.

Generous with the kind of childish gags that make you laugh in spite of yourself, the movie is feckless and predictable -- as evidenced by the presence of such cliched characters as the bitch cheerleader (Elaine Hendrix), the dreamboat football player (Will Ferrell) and the sensitive rebel (Harland Williams) -- all played by actors clearly in their 30s. But like "Wayne's World" it also dares to take the road less traveled with off-the-wall pop culture jokes ("Boy in the Plastic Bubble" reference, anyone? How about a Night Ranger song?) and surprisingly raunchy sexual humor (the movie's funniest moment finds Mary Katherine dry-humping a tree).

The plot -- what there is of it -- builds towards the talent show finale, on the way weaving through Mary Katherine's elaborate fantasies (spontaneous dance numbers, visits from god) and an imaginary love triangle in which our hapless, four-eyed heroine steals the football player away from the cheerleader.

But as refreshingly funny as "Superstar" is in relation to its stretched sketch predecessors, the fact remains that the majority of its cast members are extremely limited talents.

Shannon kills, which is no surprise if you've seen her hilarious bit parts in "Roxbury" and the equally unfortunate Drew Barrymore high school flick "Never Been Kissed." So does veteran actress Glynis Johns, playing her over-protective grandmother.

But Ferrell ("SNL," "Roxbury," "Dick") is a one-trick pony whose modus operandi is to over-act to the point of inducing headaches. Ditto, Harland Williams ("Dog Park"). And poor Elaine Hendrix ("The Parent Trap" remake), who has some real ability, looks like she may never get out of her bimbo/gold-digger rut.

I admit to laughing out loud several times during "Superstar," and I might just watch it again when it comes on cable in eight months or so. But is it worth even the price a matinee admission? No way.


Comments

Superstar Rating

" Grim "

Rating: PG-13, Opened: Friday, October 8, 1999

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