Turn on Your Heart Light

Super 8 will touch you where you feel

To quote beloved Romantic thinker William Wordsworth, the origin of poetry is “emotion recollected in tranquility.” To quote online movie critic Devin Faraci, “Nostalgia is the sad condition of disliking yourself and your life right now.” If you agree with the latter, have fun saddling genuine, joy-filled entertainment with insipid, cynical labels like “nostalgia porn.” If you agree with the former, has writer/director JJ Abrams got a movie for you…

Although set in 1979 in small-town Ohio, Super 8 feels like it takes place whenever and wherever you were when you stumbled into your first life-defining moment during the terrifying tipping point that is adolescence. Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney) has lost his mother and is left with his cold-but-caring father (Kyle Chandler), a sheriff’s deputy whose scrunched face is always set to “unamused.” Although his dad wants to “hot potato” him off to summer baseball camp, Joe refuses to abandon the zombie movie that he’s working on with his pals, Cary (Ryan Lee), Preston (Zach Mills), Charles (Riley Griffiths) and Martin (Gabriel Basso).

When Charles adds Alice (Elle Fanning) to the cast, Joe is overcome by an inner hormonal tsunami; he loves her in that stupidly honest way that comes before one knows what love is supposed to be. And just as sparks start to fly, a train crashes behind the gang as they’re filming…and a terrifying monster from another planet is freed and begins wreaking unspeakable havoc. You know, just like when you were a kid.

Super 8 is a delightful creature feature mashed-up with a coming-of-age story, a seemingly incomprehensible fusing of two disparate ideas that works. Big time. Filled with pitch-perfect PG-13 scares, the film sticks a sharp straw in the Capri Sun of popcorn thrillers from days long ago and sucks up every last drop. This is no more a derivative exploitation than the many homages of Tarantino. While cynics may see Abrams attempting to leverage Steven Spielberg’s body of work for personal gain, Super 8 feels far too honest, far too joyous for such accusations. And Spielberg’s producing credit here suggests that he agrees.

Although the joint where Abrams welded the two story arcs is admittedly creaky, it’s hard to care. The cast, most notably Fanning, is too effortlessly real, the thrills are too delightfully giddy and the overall experience is too instantly classic to get bogged down in structural minutia. Super 8 is one of those movies whose critics you pity. It is nostalgia of the most noble order and just may be this summer’s best film.

Grade = A

posted at 11:26 pm
on Friday, June 10th, 2011

COMMENTS

(We're testing Disqus commenting (finally!); please let us know if you have trouble.)

comments powered by Disqus

 

« Previous Page


Fashion Backward

The First Monday in May is a feature length-commercial for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s world-famous annual fashion exhibition that quickly turns into a shockingly oblivious confirmation that...

more »


Yas, Queens!

Oh dear God should The Huntsman: Winter’s War not work. Like, it should cause uncontrollable vomiting and permanent erectile dysfunction. So, sweet Jeebus, do I have my work cut out for me here....

more »


Beasts of Burden

The Jungle Book is director Jon Favreau’s “live-action”—if you count an entirely CGI environment with almost entirely CGI characters to be “live-action”—update of the classic Disney tale. A young...

more »


That Boy Ain’t Right

Theoretically, dumping chocolate syrup on top of M&Ms on top of Oreos on top of cookie dough on top of fudge technically tastes “good.” You just don’t get an actual dessert if you do that. What you...

more »


Awake My Soul

Nostalgia, like love, erodes rough edges; it fills in gaps, paints clean what was scuffed, and forgives copious small sins in the name of happiness. I’m sorry, but none of the Star Wars movies have...

more »







Advanced Search