We Found It On Streaming: SUPERCON (2018)

Image via Momentum Productions

You know the film. It’s a film you have never heard of. The cast might be composed of actors you know and love or complete unknowns. You stumble across it on streaming and wonder if it will be worth two hours of your time. This series will be devoted to reviewing films like these, the strange items that pop up when you are looking for a flick on the streaming service of your choice. This is “We Found It On Streaming”

Image via Momentum Productions

FILM: Supercon

Release Date: April 27, 2018

Run Time: 100 Minutes.

Streaming Service(s): Amazon Prime Video, Peacock

Rating: R for strong crude sexual content throughout, pervasive language, and drug use

I blame Kevin Smith.

His Clerks film has served as an example to more than one filmmaker, and as well it should. Many a filmmaker has been inspired by Smith to be brave enough to tell their own stories on film. But this is not always a good thing. Supercon is an example of that.

From the very first scene, the film wears the fact that it wants to be Clerks at a comic book convention on its sleeve. You’d think that because the film’s writer and director Zak Knudson was an assistant at Smith’s View Askew productions, that he might have a good shot of accomplishing that. You would be wrong. Because the only lesson he apparently learned from Smith was to make his film more vulgar and scatological than Clerks, while making in it less charming and less funny.

Keith Mahar (Russell Peters) is a former child actor who is down on his luck. His wife left him and took his dog with her. He is about to be evicted from his apartment. His only source of income is signing autographs at pop culture conventions for fans who call him “Ball Cancer Boy” due to him starring in a police procedural called “Tex Johnson, U.S. Marshall” as a turban wearing, testicular cancer survivor when he was a child. If that wasn’t bad enough, he has to put up with mock and ridicule from that show’s star, Adam King (Clancy Brown), whenever they are at the same convention together.

Image via Momentum Productions

Keith will be attending Supercon at the same time as King, but the torture will be mitigated by his friends attending the con as well: voice actor Matt Wheeler (Ryan Kwanten), 1970’s cop show star Brock Hutchinson (Brooks Braselman) and comic book artist Alison McNealy (Maggie Grace).

When Keith is blamed for a prank played on King, Keith and his three friends are bounced from the con by the promoter, Gil Burkhaulter (Mike Epps, who was also a producer on this monstrosity). Needing his autograph money to keep his apartment, Keith goes along with a plan by Matt to steal the convention receipts from Gil and Adam’s appearance fees Gil was holding on the last day of the convention.

There are a lot of problems with this film. A lot. The main one is that the characters range from one-note to total cyphers. They get one quality to set them apart from the other characters, but not enough to make us care for them. Keith is an angry man who loves his dog. Matt is a horn dog who is always trying to hook up with Alison. Alison is an acerbic slacker (until the plot needs her not to be) who throws sexually charged phrases into her conversations at inappropriate times. Brock is gay and is constantly being called by his father. None of these characters get much more development than that. This means when moments arrive when the audience is supposed to be moved–like when Keith bemoans the lack of roles for minority actors or when Brock sings a TinPan Alley classic–these moments fall flat.

The lack of character development also makes the more vulgar moments fall flat. In Clerks, Kevin Smith fleshes out his characters enough so when Randall reads off porn titles in front of a woman and he small child, it is shockingly funny. It works as becoming part of his character which had been developing throughout the film. In this film, when Keith simulates masturbating when Matt has to help him get into the convention, it makes him look like an asshole. And considering he is the character we are supposed to be rooting for the most, and comes as he is being introduced to us, it is a fatal flaw.

Image via Momentum Productions

The film is also filled with “The Idiot Plot.” Popularized by Roger Ebert, The Idiot Plot is a plot that only works if the characters are complete idiots. Common sense and all sense of logic goes out the window. The characters are supposed to be smart but have to make dumb decisions in order to keep moving forward.

Let me give you an example. Brock is tapped to travel through the ventilation ducts on the ceiling so he can let Keith and Matt into Gil’s office from the inside. However, Brock gets lost in the labyrinth of ducts after doing the task. Alison tells him to stay where he is and they will come and get him.

Where he is is over the men’s bathroom, above a stall where an obese man is sitting on the toilet doing…um…what men sit down on a toilet to do. After a prolonged back and forth over the sounds and smells the obese man is making, the man in the stall leaves without flushing. It is at this point that the duct Brock is lying down in fails, breaks apart and deposits Brock into the feces-filled toilet, causing Brock to be covered head-to-toe in the fat man’s poop.

It’s obvious that Knutson and his cowriters Dana Snyder and Andy Sipes want us to find this hilarious–gross-out humor at its finest. All I was asking was why didn’t Brock move? Yes, Alison told him to stay there, but he could have moved somewhere else and let Alison know where he was.

Why didn’t he move, which would be the logical thing to do? Because he had to stay where he was to set up the poop gag. You could write a thesis paper on all the stuff in the scene that doesn’t makes sense–how did the guys get their hands on military grade communication equipment in two days, why didn’t the obese man think a man in the vents commenting on his bowel movement was odd, when was the last time the obese man had a bowel movement because it would take about 10-20 gallons of feces to cover a man of Brock height and weight in poop–but the answer to all these questions are the idiot plot at work. It’s not supposed to make sense. It is supposed to get the plot from A to Z.

Image via Momentum Productions

The one positive I can say about the film is that it seems to get the world of pop culture conventions right–sort of. I’ve been going to comic book conventions for over 20 years, even wrote guides about it, and the way its portrayed in the film rings true. They do play fast and loose with the reality of celebrity autographs–a celebrity the stature of the way Adam King is presented in the movie would have gotten a healthy guaranteed amount paid to him before he even sets foot in the con, so Keith and company’s plan wouldn’t hurt him all that much.  But other than that, the film seems to capture the feel of the smaller, weekend conventions that pop up all over the country throughout the year. So, Supercon has that going for it, which is nice.

The acting performances are uneven. The actor who comes out best is Brown, whose character was obviously inspired by William Shatner (King’s other big TV series was “Golden Gladiator and the Future Force” a sci-fi show in the mold of Star Trek). Brown stays away from doing a Shatner parody and instead ups the egotism and entitlement of that type of celebrity. The part is still underwritten, but Brown’s bombastic performance makes it almost entertaining.

The biggest surprise was when John Malkovich makes his appearance. He plays a Jack Kirbyesque comic book creator who created the Golden Gladiator and was also ripped off by King. Malkovich’s appearance in this film both delights and depresses me. It delights me in the sense that if I ever make a movie and I can raise enough money, I could have Malkovich in my cast no matter how bad the film is because he will do anything for a paycheck. It is also depressing because an actor of Malkovich’s caliber should not have to do any film, no matter how bad it is, just to get a paycheck.

Image via Momentum Productions

The actor who comes off worse in the film is Russell Peters. Peters gives an awkward, unsure performance as Keith. I have seen some of his stand up, and he has charm and personality, but very little of it transferred to this role. He seemed at times lost during the film.

You might think you would want check this film out if you are a fan of comic book conventions. I would advise you not to. It is not even bad enough to be so-bad-it’s-good. There could be a good story told in this world someday, but this one isn’t it.

Have you found a film on streaming that you’d like us to look at? Leave it in the comments and it might appear in a future installment of this feature. 

Avatar für Bill Gatevackes
About Bill Gatevackes 2040 Articles
William is cursed with the shared love of comic books and of films. Luckily, this is a great time for him to be alive. His writing has been featured on Broken Frontier.com, PopMatters.com and in Comics Foundry magazine.
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