Super 8 is about itself

Super 8, 2011, J.J. Abrams writing and directing, starring Elle Fanning, Amanda Michalka and Kyle Chandler.

This is a movie I can respect, even if hasn’t got a hope of being a favourite movie. It’s a film about itself: a story about a “monster” and about making monster movies, and it’s just packed with deliberate examples of how these stories are told, and how fun is that? But all the meta was a bit disorienting, and unfortunately I had already rolled my eyes a few times before realizing that, duh, the camp had to be intentional. But where’s the line? What’s witty self-referential use of a clunky ol’ storytelling device, and what’s actually just less-than-ideal moviemaking? So it was too clever by half. I threw up in my mouth a little when we finally meet the monster and he has big doey eyes and is tamed in seconds by a child with a good intentions: that was pure Spielbergian saccharine. It wasn’t “bad,” but Super 8’s visitor from outer space turns out to be way too ET and literally kid-friendly for me to really get excited.

And I could have done without his ride being a Transformer.

Still, this was a quirky and smart genre film with a good sense of humour about itself, a more or less perfect-for-the-job script and cast — what is it with those Fannings and the talent? sheesh! — a bunch of fun ideas, and several rather masterly directorial flourishes. It can’t be a favourite film, but it was undeniably interesting, enjoyable, and recommendable.