Superstar (1999) — Remember when SNL used to make movies?

“Sometimes, when I get real nervous, I stick my hand under my armpits and sniff ’em!”

Justin’s rating: If you’re an honest person, you’ll admit that even YOU like weird smells sometimes

Justin’s review: From the post-Wayne’s World SNL movie era came a bevy of smaller comedies that were, for the most part, (1) inspired lofty critics everywhere to invest in voodoo dolls representing these movies, so they could just stab them whenever they liked, and (2) weren’t always half-bad. A Night At The Roxbury and The Ladies Man (both based off SNL skits), while not saving burning babies from skyscrapers, did at least make me laugh and keep my simple mind entertained with bright colors and goofy faces.

I might be casting my credibility to the wind to stand up for those films and even Superstar, but as PoolMan so tactfully reminds us every day in the staff meetings, we have no credibility. We are the movie pond scum that other pond scum just shields their eyes from and goes “tsk tsk tsk” when we walk by.

This is okay. This is why being a Mutant means that we’re suddenly free to not care about movie society at large, and just be honest. Also, after work, we like to key the cars of hotshot newspaper critics.

Superstar (directed by Kids In The Hall alum Bruce McCulloch) is not one of those flicks that will have you falling to your knees and gasping as you try to draw air into your lungs while laughter keeps driving it out. More like, it’s the type of film that you watch with at least one eyebrow firmly raised and occasionally let out a small chuckle if you forget yourself and your proper etiquette. Why is this, do you ask? Because unlike films where the female lead is either there to fulfill the romantic subplot blank for the man to smooch or she’s some sort of highly-empowered action hero who’s recovering Nazi gold from Columbian drug lords before aliens burst out of their chests, Superstar’s main character is a dorky, awkward schoolgirl played by a woman about to go through menopause.

This is the perverse appeal of this film. Mary Katherine Gallagher (Molly Shannon) boasts neither sexiness or strength, but she does hold the Olympic gold medal for the Oddity Relay. Lacking tact and engaging in all sorts of weirdly inappropriate endeavors, Mary’s biggest dream is to somehow be famous and be kissed by a movie star. As in the SNL skits, she romps around her Catholic prep school, smelling her armpits and butting heads (literally) with the Queen Bee chick on campus.

Really, we need more people like Mary on screen. We’ve had more than plenty of strange dudes grace the screen, but it’s some sort of slight taboo to show a girl in anything less than a number of clearly defined roles on the screen. Mary doesn’t like those limitations; Mary likes to make out with trees. I could watch the tree-smooching scene once every morning if I needed a substitute for coffee.

To make her look good, comparison-wise, Mary ends up in the “special needs” class with various high school rejects. Naturally, they’re just waiting for an inspirational leader to give them a memorable speech and lead them into battle, hacking up their enemies with claymores and scythes. The horrific, stomach-churning finale of Superstar flies in the face of the PG-13 rating, but it’s simple message that evil will triumph because good is dumb is something even the youngest among us can appreciate.

This is a movie that — like Mutant Reviewers — openly celebrates the strange nature in all of us. Who among us hasn’t wanted to do something extremely childish to someone who’s a jerk to us? Or hasn’t craved to just leap into some nutty dance number with a horde of strangers? Or taken our love of movies to new and depraved depths? Or made out… with shrubberies?

Maybe I’m fighting a losing battle, but since I bought this DVD, I’m dedicated to at least dragging one of you down to the depths of SNL purgatory with me.

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