Who else but an indie filmmaker would look at a bowl of spaghetti and a paper bag and think, 'I can make a superhero movie out of that!'
A fun, imaginative, daringly low-budget affair, Spaghettiman is propelled by enthusiasm and modesty more than anything else, which helps it motor through a variety of rough patches. Director Mark Potts and his tiny team of collaborators thus turn a potential home movie into a full-blown feature project. The story begins with Clark (Ben Crutcher), a layabout who can't hold a job. His indulgent roommate Dale (Winston Clark) is supportive to a fault.
One day, Clark wakes up and begins urinating spaghetti.
Understandably alarmed, Clark soon discovers that he can shoot spaghetti from various part of his body, most notably his hands. Initially, he's grateful for the free source of food, but it doesn't take long before he figures out that he can be a superhero of sorts. Unlike better-known superheroes, however, Clark insists on getting paid by those he saves, and it isn't long before he has a thriving business going.
Clark, who wears a paper bag over his head to conceal his true identity, decides to call himself Spaghettiman and attracts the attention of paparazzo Anthony Banner (Brand Rackley), who captures video footage and furthers the popular status of Spaghettiman. In time, the two begin collaborating.
Of course, there's one more element that's needed in a superhero movie. To quote Unbreakable: "You know how you can tell who the arch-villain's going to be? He's the exact opposite of the hero. And most times they're friends." Similarly, an unlikely arch-villain emerges in Spaghettiman, someone who causes trouble for the hero and drives the back half of the narrative toward a triumphant conclusion.
There's no denying that Spaghettiman borrows freely from many other comic book sources. Perhaps the most obvious is Kick-Ass, which revolves around the idea of ordinary citizens putting on costumes, fighting bad guys, and saving fellow ordinary citizens. At heart, it's a reflection of frustration, at the inability of the legal system to mete our true justice to savage criminals, as well as the yearning to be heroic and to be celebrated and/or acknowledged for it, at least.
Spaghettiman is far more a threadbare comedy than any kind of social-issue outcry, but its sincere mocking of superhero conventions says a lot about how far the popular culture has changed in the past ten years or so. Whether we like it or not, superheroes and their blockbusters have become an extremely common point of cultural reference, and we need more movies like Spaghettiman to point out how ridiculous that is.
The film screens this afternoon at the Dallas International Film Festival and will screen again tomorrow, Wednesday, April 22 at 10:45 p.m..