Thanks to the current oversaturation of superheroes in the marketplace, from big-budget blockbusters to tiny “quirky” indies, audiences are likely going to see every conceivable take on the genre before it begins to contract in popularity. All we can really hope for, I suppose, is to find a little bit of wit and entertainment on the way. That’s when we’ll have an influx of Viking movies. Mark my words. In 15 years time, superheroes will be a thing of the past, and Vikings will be the word of the day. Forget that Pirates vs. Ninjas nonsense. It’ll be Vikings vs. Mummies. But, y’know, sexy mummies.
But I digress already. Jeremy M. Inman’s flick Super Hero Party Clown, now on home video, is a sweet and kind-hearted, if not slight little film about a young man who uses a superhero costume to keep his identity secret. Not because he is a legitimate superhero, but because he is ashamed of his job as a costumed party clown who entertains children at birthday parties. Randy J. Blair plays a twentysomething named Eugene who, as a child, always dreamed of being his favorite comic book hero Arachnid-Man, a green version of Spider-Man. He currently makes ends meet by dressing up as Arachnid-Man and cavorting for young kids in suburban backyards. Eugene longs for Emily (Shelby Barnes) his old high school crush, but takes a long time to tell her what he does for a living. He does, however, get to interact with her while he’s wearing a mask, and Emily kind of digs the guy who plays Arachnid-Man. Kind of like a low-budget rom-com version of triangular dynamic between Lois Lane, Clark Kent, and Superman.
Familiar superhero tropes are also adapted through this cutesy romantic dynamic. Eugene also has a rival in the form of Todd (Adam Sessa) the studly jerk from high school, who not only easily gains Emily’s attention, but becomes a professional rival when he gets a job as Captain Terrific, a pseudo-Superman. Yes, they play fight. Yes, there’s a cute discussion as to how these two characters could never meet because they were made by different companies. They don’t need to say Marvel or DC, but anyone who has ever been inside a comic book shop knows what they’re alluding to. I also like the running gag about Eugene’s costume. One kid will whine: “He doesn’t look like Arachnid-Man!” another will wisely point out “That’s because he’s Silver Age.”
Usually, I like to compliment films when they nail geek discourse, and really capture how geeks talk to one another. In the case of Super Hero Party Clown, I was actually relieved that the usual geek yammering was kept to a minimum, and that these young men discussed imaginary superheroes with only a passing fervor. The ultimate drama of this film is essentially to examine the function that superheroes play in little kids’ lives, and how party clowns in costumes can fulfill an important childhood function. It’s nothing more complex. It’s not necessarily deep, but it’s pretty likeable.
The film is as light as a feather, and, at a mere 82 minutes, is consumed like a casual confection. It’s a wispy puff of sugar for people who have an interest in twentysomething professional angst, and, of course, superheroes. It hardly beings anything revolutionary, or even necessarily notable, to the superhero table, and its flashes of wit were too far between to really laugh out loud, but I was a little charmed by its good nature. It’s a sweet little movie.