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Sidekick

Posted on Sep 2, 2008 by | 0 comments

Now I have been fairly slow to hop on the High Def bandwagon for many reasons. I don’t like being forced into buying a new technology, nor have I fallen for the claims of how HD is the new standard bearer. HD still is vastly inferior to film, and no amount of campaigning by Sony is going to change that fact. But that all being said when it comes to home viewing HD is the best option. And my 25 inch analog set has hit 15 years old and is ready for a well earned retirement, leading me to have a less then ideal home viewing environment for the oodles of movies I watch on a weekly basis. So while I wasn’t ready to proclaim my undying love for all things HD, that didn’t change the fact that I needed a new television set.

So this week Anna and I have begun to do some shopping. Unlike most shopping, for example the kind where I have to find clothes that I don’t particularly like but try on simply because a certain someone thinks I look good in them only to discover that I feel even less attractive and by the third or fourth trip to the dressing room I have what could only be described as a meltdown in which I threaten to buy a Family Guy t-shirt or some other ridiculous advertisement of stupidity if I am not allowed to immediately leave the store, I quite enjoy shopping for televisions and home theaters. Probably because I don’t feel the need to immediately go on a diet after completing the entire ordeal.

Now we haven’t decided on anything yet, but it looks like by this time next week I will be watching movies on a nice new plasma HDTV complete with surround sound and an upconverting DVD player. It will be sweet, and as a extra added bonus, just in time for me to play Star Wars: The Force Unleashed on the Wii as well as watch next week’s yet to be announced film. It’ll be awesome.

Unfortunately, that means I didn’t have the new setup in time for this weeks review of Sidekick, a small independent film from Canada about Norman (Perry Mucci), a comic book nerd who discovers a co-worker (David Ingram) has super powers. Unable to believe his luck, Norman tries to help train his co-worker in the use of his abilities, all in the hopes that Norman might then be employed as his superhero sidekick. With the summer winding down, this seemed like a perfect tie-in to the comic book film summer landscape. Albeit on a much lower budget, minimal special effects and lacking in star power scale.

One of the interesting things about Sidekick is just a few short years ago it is the type of comic book movie I would have expected a studio to put out. Low cost, low risk and decidedly low returns on a market that was dying for respectability. But after record breaking movie openings a series of books on an outcast who becomes, like, the coolest wizard evah, it seems that someone has pulled a classic Ronald Miller scam on Pop Culture. You see, in the last few years nerd has become the new cool, but Sidekick didn’t seem to get the memo.

Unlike most of the modern day superhero films, Sidekick refuses to show the bright side of such acts, or in fandom. Norman is a sad man who hates his job and every day escapes to his local comic book shop to discuss comics with the store owner (Daniel Baldwin). Rather then attempting to meet people or ask out the receptionist that he is desperately smitten with, he is content to remain in the safe world of comics that he has built for himself, and even when he discovers Victor’s (Ingram) powers he can only think of this marvelous happenstance in comic book terms.

Norman becomes convinced that Victor needs to hone his powers in order to help save those in peril, this in spite of the vast evidence to the contrary of Victor’s motives for learning how to strengthen his powers. It is in this particular storyline that Sidekick begins to distance itself from the standard superhero fare. Rather then focus on the good one can do and the struggle of the hero to reach such great heights, Sidekick drags Norman through the mud and shows him time and again that he can’t change anyone if they don’t want to be changed. Victor was an unpleasant colleague before Norman discovered his powers, and even after Norman’s incessant “training” Victor still views him as nothing more then an annoying lout who is only worthy of his contempt.

But Victor isn’t the only one. Norman’s object of affection, Andrea (MacKenzie Lush), uses Norman in an effort to get closer to Victor. Viewing him as her only opportunity at rising in the company she catches on to their increased activities and attempts to use her charms on Norman in an effort to finally catch a break, even if she has to step on Norman’s feelings in the process.

But the real twist of the matter is Victor and his feelings of fear at having these powers. Where as most superhero stories only show the acquisition of any super powers as anything less then something to enjoy, Victor is terrified at the thought of being discovered. Fearing he’ll be viewed as a freak, the type of person he spent his entire life making miserable, Victor lives in constant fear of discovery. And it isn’t until Victor learns that his powers can elevate him above anyone does he finally relish the power they bring him. It is an interesting take on the evolution of a super villain, and seemingly a fairly accurate portrayal on what might truly occur.

But like many independent films, Sidekick suffers due to the lack of financial backing for the production. With weak acting, poor special effects, and production values all to often forced to rely on smoke and mirrors. The film is in a constant struggle to over come these limitations, and unfortunately it rarely does. Sidekick is a solid film, and at times very entertaining, but it simply doesn’t have the budget to pull it up from being anything but a secondary superhero film.

Matt Gamble
I review movies. I run a movie theatre. I annoy people. I let my dogs lick my face whenever they want. Sometimes I'm even a halfway decent human.
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