Coming of Age
Inspired by the director’s memories of Michigan, and produced by a team of first-timers in the movie industry, Superior is Thelma & Louise with two high school graduates, Fargo without its dark humor, Easy Rider, without the drugs, and The Revenant in the form of a buddy movie. It is a satisfying experience of its own nature that is sure to please.
Two best friends in Vietnam War-era Calumet, Michigan are about to try out a hang glider along the beach of a small town. That is, until the car driving the hang glider breaks down, and the friend in the glider crashes onto the ground. It appears that he’s about to die, and his best friend leaves the broken vehicle to aid his friend. In his last dying words, he has this to say, “You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant.” It’s a pretty cruel joke, but this is the basis of Charlie and Derek’s friendship over the next hour and a half.
They both graduated high school and have their own plans ahead of them. Charlie’s planning on going to Michigan Tech University, and Derek is forced by his father to enlist in the US army. He in particular is fearful of his future: What will happen in life? How will he die? How will his face look at his funeral? Maybe it’s time to take this issue seriously…
Thus, he proposes to Charlie to take one last 1,300 mile bicycle excursion around Lake Superior. It is their last chance to live like they’re still free of responsibility while in each other’s company, not weighed down by societal pressure. Their trip is documented by a camera around Charlie’s neck and the ripped pages of Captain Hatteras. Their excursion eventually takes them off the planned detour and over the Canadian border, resulting in a dangerous trip that becomes less fun than they imagined. The survey of their buddy trip feels almost entirely complete, although I still wish that more of their lives before the trip was shown to get the full picture.
But maybe it works to its effect of focusing on their very real friendship. The screenplay written by the director avoids plot clichés to delve into honest, real conversations between these two through appropriately drawn out moments. With every stressful dilemma that tests their bond, there are plenty of lighthearted breaks including rock skipping and stick fighting; and on the side, plenty of jokes driven by circumstantial discomfort.
This film proves the tremendous potential the entire cast and crew has ahead of them, including the guitar score provided by Jeff Tinsley. The cinematography by producer Alex Bell also takes advantage of cool-colors and symmetrical shots to mark each important turning point of the journey. There were some moments where the camera was thrown out of focus, but the desire to visit Michigan is still sure to ignite.
As far as the actors go, they all are relatively average. It is composed of mainly unknowns native to Michigan, which helps, as star power would have removed the journey’s effect. None of these new actors gave an insufferable performance, aside from Brian Downing, who is creepy enough as the town folk who robs the boys of their money, but otherwise is simply not threatening in the way he was intended.
Superior is no The Graduate, but its depiction of facing the future and making decisions is hard-hitting for all men and women crossing that bridge of life. You could be leaving high school or leaving college or leaving a career, whichever stage of life you are leaving, Superior is for you. The ending is not entirely clear on its call to action, but for what it does, plenty of discussion and independent thinking will naturally ignite. Simplicity is currently available for rent or purchase on all media platforms.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Kemp, Susan. Superior (Dances With Films Review). Way Too Indie. Disqus, 5 Jun 2015. Web. <http://waytooindie.com/review/movie/superior/>.
Superior the Movie. Beyond the Porch Productions. Web. <http://www.superiorthemovie.com/>.