I went to the dentist today. To be more exact, I went to the hygienist today, and the dentist stopped by for a quick visit. I’ve only had two cavities in my lifetime, so maybe I’m naive, but I’d rather get a tooth drilled than go through the slow torture that is getting my teeth cleaned. It’s hard to relax when someone is chiseling relentlessly at a sensitive stretch of tooth or knuckling my tongue down my throat in an effort to leverage out a stubborn bit of plaque. So today I tried something new. Rather than lay there rigidly, waiting for it to be over, I did my best to forget I was in the hygienist’s chair and replayed the movie I saw last night: Super 8.
The movie engaged me from the moment budding film director Charles Kaznyk (Riley Griffiths) appeared in full obsessive-compulsive movie-making mode. My children go to a Fine Arts High School and I feel certain I’ve seen that kid wandering the halls, his eyes popping in a manic search for production value. In fact, all six kids in the motley film crew were completely convincing to me. (I think there were six kids . . . though logically there should have been eight, thus adding another level of meaning to the movie’s title.) Between their amusing efforts to build a better zombie movie and the growing tension entangling protagonist Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney), his new friend Alice (Elle Fanning), and their respective fathers, I might have been content even without the, uh, explosive turn of events about a third of the way through the movie.
But things did turn explosive. (Does anyone else see the paradox that zombies were used both to lighten the mood and to prepare the viewer for scary times to come?) Suddenly, it was as if the movie had ended and we were starting the second feature film. The transition was expected, given the trailers I’d seen on TV. And I liked this second movie just as much as the first, though for different reasons – it was scary and exciting and all things a good roller-coaster ride should be. I sat back to enjoy, while my kids literally leaned forward on the edge of their seats. At some point, I started to question whether this was more of a PG-13 movie rather than PG. But just as the things were looking their most bleak and apocalyptic, the second movie ended . . . and I suddenly found myself watching E.T. (on steroids).
The sudden about-face took me right out of the flow of the movie. It was as if director J. J. Abrams was going along, doing his own thing, when producer Steven Spielberg stopped by to check on progress. “No, no, J.J.,” says Steve. “Much too distressing for our target audience. Better lighten it up a bit.”
Who is going to argue with Steve?
So, yeah, Super 8 wasn’t perfect. But did I like it? I pondered that question as the hygienist shoved giant mouthguards full of definitely-not-mint-flavored goo into my mouth. And my conclusion was, yeah, I did like Super 8. All three of them.
My other conclusion: Someone needs to tell my hygienist that my tongue is not meant to be used as a wedge.
Rating: 12 stars out of 15 (for triple the fun).*
*For parents, there were some brutal moments during the second movie. True, they were brief, with minimal blood. But I would hesitate to bring someone under 10 to this movie, unless you’ve been playing Call of Duty on family game night.