An amiable, slight, and overly familiar story gives us a boy so shy he cannot talk to the girl he likes without wearing a costume. Eugene wears the superhero suit of Arachnid-Man at children’s parties. He is not really a tough dude, but plays one when hired for kids. He finds he is pitted against a rival for a cute girl’s affections and the rival becomes another party clown superhero. Eugene has to be a hero both in the real world and as Arachnid-Man. Jeremy M. Inman writes and directs his own premier film. The film has a story and it moderately works on the screen, but there is not enough original here to attract much attention.
Rating: low +1 (-4 to +4) or 5/10.
Eugene Stimpson (played by Randy Blair) believes that kids need heroes. He is doing his part by dressing up as Arachnid-Man for children’s parties. In real life he is shy and hopes to have a chance with Emily Talbot (Shelby Barnes), a girl he has had a flame for since high school. She does not even seem to know he is alive, but he becomes friendly with the Arachnid-Man who was hired for her little brother’s birthday party. Eugene is afraid to tell her that he is the secret identity of Arachnid-Man. But his high school rival Todd Walker (Adam Sessa) gets a job from the same company playing Captain Tremendous, a superhero a lot like Captain Marvel. We have a story on two levels with the introvert Eugene rivaling Todd and Arachnid-Man against Captain Tremendous.
The non-super introvert hiding in a superhero suit is a fairly common device. We saw it in Matthew Vaughn’s KICK-ASS and done well in Takashi Miike’s ZEBRAMAN (2004). Guys who cannot converse with girls and need fictitious personas to communicate through go at least back to LILI (1953).
There are some problems with the screenplay that needed to be addressed. For a comedy there is little attempt at humor. The film is frequently cute, but it could have done well with a few good laughs. The comedy never rises above being just agreeable. There is a perfunctory attempt at making Eugene an idealist who thinks that being a party clown is in some ways a noble and important calling. It never works and so it is hard for the viewer to really be rooting for Eugene. Again, some stronger emotion is needed.
An important aspect of the story is that some people do not recognize that the guy in the Arachnid-Man suit is really the Eugene Stimpson whom they know well. Sadly, it might have worked in a comic book but on the screen we can see the shape of Eugene’s head, hear his voice, and see how tall he is. It becomes obvious to the viewer that the spandex costume simply would not make Eugene unrecognizable.
Writer/director Inman makes the mistake of showing us scenes from what is supposed to be a classic Arachnid-Man film. Unfortunately, he has neither the talent nor the budget to create these clips properly so they look like they really came from a blockbuster. These are supposed to be clips of a highly polished Hollywood comic book film. It was gutsy for Inman to attempt to make these clips, but he would have been better off keeping them off-screen so the viewer could imagine they were like something out of SPIDER-MAN.
There is some minor chemistry between Blair and Barnes, but the emotional level is so small and slight that it never engages the viewer. Even the title could use more pizzazz. Maybe it could have been called something like SUPERHEROES FOR HIRE. The viewer is less likely to say “YEAH!” when the film is over and more likely to just say “OK.” I rate SUPER HERO PARTY CLOWN a low +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 5/10. SUPER HERO PARTY CLOWN comes to DVD and Digital on September 25th this year (2012).
Mark R. Leeper
Copyright 2012 Mark R. Leeper