Entertainment » Movies


by Robert Newton
National Film Editor
Friday Jun 13, 2008

This superhero movie's very small budget did not allow for spectacular set pieces and ultra-modern CGI, so Sidekick writer Michael Sparaga affected the most special of effects -- he wrote a really good script.

When a schlub named Norman (Perry Mucci) witnesses the telekinetic powers of Victor (David Ingram), ladder-climbing looker in his office, Norman, an avid reader of comic books, offers to coach him in the ways of superheroism. Victor, however, may not have what it takes -- namely the innate goodness -- to be a superhero. Interpersonal conflict ensues.

Imagine if M. Night Shyamalan's "Unbreakable" was not so self-aggrandizing and schmaltzy (and not written by M. Night Shyamalan), and you'd have Blake Van de Graaf's thoughtful and funny "Sidekick." It is not only deeply rooted in the mythos of many a pulp, but, like "Free Enterprise" did, it respects the fact that everyone is a fan of something. Norman is so all-knowing and enthusiastic about getting Victor into the superhero business that when Victor inevitably rejects the support, we see much clearer what each man is made of. Unlike on-the-nose big-budget fare like "Fantastic Four," this one is smartly written, and despite sharing tone and themes with NBC's "Heroes," this lean Canadian indie predates that hit series.

The performances are solid, with Mucci and Ingram forming a great didactic duo. Mucci is plays Norman like a king among dorks, with Ingram as Victor countering him nicely with a "go away kid, you bother me" attitude that he morphs nicely into one of opportunistic curiosity. Daniel Baldwin is a real standout as Norman's friend, Chuck, a store owner like Comic Book Guy from "The Simpsons" with depth who delivers a speech about comics that is nearly as cool as Peter O'Toole's riff on criticism in "Ratatouille."

Add this one to the short list of recent low-budget superhero movies like "The Specials" and just plain "Special" that get the essence of a superhero right, taking a good idea and despite a small budget, making us believe, even if it is only for 90 minutes and within the context of the story.

*SPECIAL FEATURES: Director Commentary; Writer Commentary; Cast Commentary; Outtakes; Deleted Scenes; Cast & Crew Interviews

Robert Newton is the National Film Editor for EDGE. He is also Editor of North Shore Movies Weekly, and a film and TV writer for a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites. He is also an award-winning novelty recording artist (aka "Fig"), and runs The Cape Ann Community Cinema on the island of Gloucester, MA.


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