VOD film review: Superbob
Ivan Radford | On 17, Oct 2015
Director: Jon Drever
Cast: Brett Goldstein, Catherine Tate, Natalie Tena
Watch Superbob online in the UK: We Are Colony / iTunes / TalkTalk TV Store / Amazon Instant Video / Wuaki / Google Play / Virgin Movies / TalkTalk / Eircom
Another superhero movie? After Marvel’s juggernaut of a machine has all but steamrollered the novelty out of the comic book genre, you’d be forgiven for shrugging off the latest costumed crime-fighter to hit the big screen. But Superbob isn’t your typical neighbourhood hero. In fact, he’s a postman.
Jon Drever’s comedy, starring Brett Goldstein, follows Bob, a Peckham postie who gets on the wrong side of a meteor and winds up super-powered to Kal-El levels, but never loses touch with his mundane roots. The result is a distinctly British take on the overly-familiar formula. There’s no alien threat here, or a giant spaceship crashing into a city: the real enemy is paperwork. While the US lavishes its superheroes with massive budgets and high-tech gadgets, you see, the UK goes in the opposite direction: Superbob wades into danger armed with forms, asking people to sign for health and safety conditions or rate their feedback with his service. He even has time off every week, mandated by the UN, which means it”s illegal for him to help people on Tuesdays.
Goldstein is wonderful as the perpetually confused cape-wearer, playing his lead as a strong hero, but a pathetic bloke: Bob may be able to melt metal with his eyes, but he hasn’t been on a date in years. Enter June (a wonderfully pushy Laura Haddock), whom Bob falls for at the local library, much to the bemusement of his long-time cleaner, Dorris (Tena), and his boss (Catherine Tate). Haddock and Goldstein mine the maximum amount of humour from Bob’s terrible social skills – his idea of small talk is asking which gas provider she has – but Natalia Tena (no stranger to VOD – she can be seen in the equally excellent series Residue on Netflix) emerges as the strongest performer, with her mouthy Columbian cleaner proving a natural companion to her quiet boss.
Drever roots his story in these interactions, a lo-fi approach that places an emphasis on sentiment over spectacle — a welcome contrast to the blockbusters of late. Indeed, it’s no coincidence that superhero TV series have now become more interesting than movies, because of the time they allow for emotional development and smaller-scale stories (Marvel’s Ant-Man is arguably an interesting concession to this). With Superbob’s smart world-building, which leaves effects to take place convincingly in the backkgroud, the result has a lot in common with web series Altruman, another low-budget superhero comedy, but boasts a charming identity all of its own: one sweet dance scene halfway through might be the most romantic superhero scene ever captured on camera. Tate brings occasional laughs to balance out any tweeness, pushing our civil servant into a political relationship with the US, but it’s the simplicity that rescues the film, shrugging off the big picture to focus on the small. Bob is only a postman, but he might just have saved the superhero movie single-handed.
Superbob is available online with a bundle of exclusive behind-the-scenes content, including interviews, making-of documentaries, script and bloopers, from WeAreColony.com