Jon Drever | 82 mins | streaming (HD) | 2.35:1 | UK / English | 15
Comedies about superheroes tend to come in the form of big-bucks mainstream-aimed effects-y pieces (Hancock, My Super Ex-Girlfriend), or R-rated deliberately-shocking genre deconstructions (Kick-Ass, Super). SuperBob is something else again: a low-key, almost sitcom-y, kind of polite, very British take on the sub-subgenre.
It follows the life of quiet, mild-mannered Bob (Brett Goldstein, who also co-writes), an ordinary postman who’s struck by a meteorite and gains Superman-esque powers, and whose personality doesn’t change with it. He’s put under contract by the British government and kept on a strict schedule for his world-saving activities, monitored and controlled by Catherine Tate. The Americans aren’t best pleased, because they want him. That kind of thing goes on in the background, though, because the film follows Bob on his day off, as he finally arranges a date with a librarian he fancies (Laura Haddock) and, because he doesn’t have a clue how to go about such romance-related things, asks his cleaner (Natalia Tena) for help. Romcom-ish antics ensue.
SuperBob begins as a faux-documentary; a film being made about Bob and his life, which makes sense because who wouldn’t be interested in a documentary on the world’s only superhero? For us real-life viewers, though, it’s a form that feels a little tired at this point — I involuntarily groaned out loud when I realised that’s where it was going. Stick with it, though, because the conceit is all but dropped fairly early on, and the film begins to develop in nice directions. It starts out as pure comedy, and while it doesn’t lose that aspect, it does develop a strand of endearingly genuine sweetness. That helps to see it through the predictable rom-com beats that follow, leaving you (or this viewer, at least) not minding that it’s predictable where the story’s going to go because, thanks to the characters, that’s where you want it to go.
If you’re after a comedy that seeks to mine humour from the world of superheroes, you’re better off looking elsewhere (Kick-Ass and Super, as mentioned; Superhero Movie, definitely not), but for a likeable romantic movie with a twist, SuperBob does the trick.