Stop me if you’ve heard this one – a shy, nerdy high school senior secretly pines for the “popular” girl at his school and makes a fool of himself (well, he throws up on her) when he tries to talk to her. Ok, how about this one – a shy, nerdy high school senior tries to finagle an invite to the BIGGEST party of the year. Ok, how about this one – a shy, nerdy high school senior goes to bed wishing he could have a chance with his unrequited love and wakes up in the body of a high school stud! Ok, how about… well, you get the idea.
There’s very little originality displayed in Supercool, one of the narrative features screened at this year’s SFFILM Festival. It checks all the boxes of a standard coming-of-age, body-switching, high-school-blowout genre picture. Besides our awkward protagonist Neil (Jake Short) and the object of his affection Summer (Madison Davenport), there’s also Gilbert (Miles J. Harvey), the amusing, horndog sidekick; a prep-ish, jock-ish rival (Will Meyers), some understanding yet somewhat embarrassing parents (Peter Holden, Jean Villepique), and an annoying sister who saves the day (Odessa A’zion).
Director Teppo Airaksinen brings the genre up-to-date by adding vaping, Viagra, pansexuality, and Uber to the mix. He and screenwriters Olli Haikka and Ali Moussavi up the raunch quotient as well, particularly with a late-night, roof-top conversation between the internet porn-obsessed Neil and Gilbert about dick sucking, though the scene is actually sweeter than it sounds.
The film is at its strongest when it examines the friendship of Neil and Gilbert and at its weakest when it veers off into a strange sublot involving Jimmy (Damon Wayans, Jr.), a parents’-basement-dwelling, high-end auto dealing, convenience-store-robbing neighbor of Neil’s. It seems a bit tone-deaf to be playing police misconduct for laughs. And a convenience store clerk named Apu?
Those missteps aside, the film does open with a whiz-bang action sequence and Neil and Gilbert’s adventures do generate some laughs over its relatively-short 90 minutes. The film is well cast, with Short doing Michael Cera-lite as Neil. He does what he can with what is now a stock character. Harvey is very good as the sidekick (and generates most of the laughs) and A’zion scores points as the tough sister with a heart of gold. Wayans is fine as Jimmy, though his character and his scenes seem to belong in a different movie.
That disjointedness and darkness is really discordant and works against the film. As a result, the film ends up being less than the sum of its parts. It could have been more.
Supercool is just OK.
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Photos courtesy of SFFILM