Spaghettiman

We've all daydreamed about having superpowers. Who wouldn't want to be invulnerable, or super-strong, or able to leap tall buildings in a single bound? Though granted, True Flight would be cooler than Super-Jumping. One power that isn't on anyone's list, though, is the ability to shoot spaghetti from your hands. For one thing, then you'd end up with a name like Spaghettiman, and that isn't exactly going to strike fear into the hearts of criminals.

To start with, though, Clark (Ben Crutcher) is just a regular guy. Well, actually he's a complete jerk who can't hold down a job for more than a week, but other than that he's a regular guy. The only person who can stand him is his roommate, Dale (Winston Carter), who is far too nice for his own good. Clark takes shameless advantage of Dale's generosity when Clark can't afford his share of the rent, which is most of the time.

Dale is also struggling to pass the police academy so that he can help people and make the city a better place to live. He isn't exactly in shape, though, so for now he's stuck doing office jobs at the police department, where two officers (Kevin M. Brennan and Doug Manley) do their best to make his life miserable. But Dale can forgive anything.

Then, thanks to a mysteriously malfunctioning microwave worthy of Stan Lee himself, Clark finds himself gifted with the weirdest super-power ever. He uses it much like Spider-Man uses his webbing, but face it, it's still spaghetti. Cooked spaghetti, mostly, in case you're wondering about that like I was. It's a very powerful food item, though.

But of course Clark still doesn't have a job and "pasta generation + missile creation" isn't something you can put on your resume. Also, he's still a jerk who's convinced there has to be a way to make some money at this 'hero' gig. I think he would have been better off to hire a publicist and maybe get a real mask instead of a paper bag, but that would be too much like Hancock and not nearly strange enough for this movie.

So instead he shakes down the people he helps. I told you he was a jerk. He even goes so far as to join forces with freelance photographer Anthony Banner (Brand Rackley) who's a bit like Jake Gyllenhaal from Nightcrawler except human. Anthony's wife, Katie (Leigh Wulff), rightly thinks that he should have nothing to do with Clark, but pictures of him are worth big bucks for some reason.

The comic-reading, truth-and-justice seeking Dale, however, is appalled by these moneymaking schemes, constantly urging Clark to step up and be a real hero. This works about as well as you'd expect, but Dale isn't one to give up easily. How far will he go to get Clark to see the light? And what happens when one of the few remaining criminals in town (Joe LoCicero) discovers a way to hit Spaghettiman where it hurts?

If you watch only one truly bizarre no-budget superhero movie this year, it needs to be Spaghettiman, even if you don't like superhero movies. It's at least as ridiculous as it sounds, and there are several moments that are so strange they're painful. (Hint: Singing is involved in at least one such moment.) Yet it's ridiculously entertaining, taking a mishmash of super-tropes, comic book cliches and cartoon villainy and magically creating something fresh and funny -- certainly a lot fresher than the leftover noodles that started all this.

It's a wonderful example of what can be done with an offbeat idea and a group of people who are obviously enjoying what they're doing. Best of all, despite the surreal concept and occasional over the top speeches, it's surprisingly realistic, genuine, and well worth watching.

*Note: this review contains several potentially obscure references to the GURPS and Marvel Super-Heroes role-playing games. I couldn't resist.

Image: 
Anthony and Spaghettiman at a diner. Yes, he eats soup with a bag over his head.

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