Confessions of a Superhero

Most of us have been kids who dreamed about being superheroes when we grew up -- but Confessions of a Superhero may make you glad your life didn't take you down that path. This documentary, directed by Matthew Ogens, examines four people pretending to be super characters while pursuing their own dreams.

In Hollywood, lots of actors supplement or make their living dressing up as superheroes, offering to be photographed with tourists, then hoping for a tip from the tourist. Confessions of a Superhero looks at four of these faux heroes: Christopher Dennis, a Superman actor who resembles Christopher Reeve; Maxwell Allen, a Batman with quite a bit of anger; Jennifer Gerht, a Wonder Woman; and Joseph McQueen, a black man covered in plastic to become the Hulk.

All four of these people see themselves as actors on the verge of something better, but they take different approaches to their lives pretending to be superheroes. Dennis is a massive Superman fan whose apartment is filled with memorabilia and photos, from the floors to the walls. Allen has plenty of problems, from a barely-controlled rage to ever-improbable tales of his violent and dangerous past. Gerht treats her Wonder Woman work as a day job, as she works in becoming a better actress and auditioning for commercials. And McQueen, who was once homeless, considers posing for photos and hoping for tips as "panhandling."

This documentary gives a good deal of insight in the background and attitudes of the actors in this line of work. (There are innumerable other characters wandering the streets, from Star Wars aliens to Pinhead and Ghost Rider.) A sheriff explains the laws governing these folks -- they can't approach fans for photos, they can't be too aggressive, and they have to stress that tips are optional. Some people see these actors as helping tourism, while others see them as bums. They even sometimes become famous (appearing on The Jummy Kimmel Show) or infamous (when the news reports show "Elmo" getting arrested).

Confessions of a Superhero is interesting, but not particularly insightful. The four actors here seem realistic about their roles as tourist attractions, but this is basically another story about actors doing something a bit silly while searching for their big break. Ogens generally lets his subjects speak for themselves, but some showy touches (Allen visiting a psychiatrist in his Batman costume, Dennis interviewed in a pale green room with a pale green light) are a little over the top. This is a decent documentary, but it's nothing, er, super.

Overall Grade: B

Reviewed by James Lynch

No comments: