Super-Hero’s in training should work well as a comedy. Get a good writing team (who are fans of comics and can throw in good inside jokes) and hire a good cast, and you should be raring for success. Super Capers doesn’t follow this method whatsoever (though casting Michael Rooker and Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister did help in minimalistic fashion for the good cast part).
Let’s start with the humdrum plot. Ed Gruberman (Justin Whalin, who you may remember as Andy Barclay in Child’s Play 3) dreams of being a superhero. Noticing a damsel-in-distress being mugged, he takes it upon himself to help her, by clocking the mugger (Clint Howard) with a 2 x 4 (Hacksaw Jim Duggan would be proud). After getting a thank you kiss, the damsel disappears into the night, as the cops show up and arrest Gruberman for assault (a videotape shows only him attacking the mugger, and not the mugger holding up the damsel).
Gruberman is sentenced to superhero court, where he is found guilty and must pay the mugger and his lawyer (Tom Sizemore) the sum of $1 (I wish I was making this up). That’s not all though, as the judge (Michael Rooker) enlists Gruberman into Super Capers, an academy for super-heroes in training (much like Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters).
Here he meets Will Powers (Ryan McPartlin), a man with charming good looks and incredible strength; Felicia Freeze (Danielle Harris), a comely woman who has the power to freeze her enemies (bet you didn’t see that coming); Herman Brainard (Sam Lloyd), a 50-year-old man who has the power of mind control and still lives with his mother; Puffer Boy (Ray Griggs), a man who, when in fear, blows up like a puffer fish (once again, I bet you didn’t see that coming); Herbert Q (Oliver Muirhead) and his robot partner Robo (very original), who create gadgets and costumes for the clan of would-be super-heroes. And last but not least, Sarge (Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister), the man in charge of Super Capers.
On his first mission, Gruberman saves the day from destruction by thwarting Captain Sludge’s (Jon Polito) plan of stealing gold (I forget how much there was, and, quite frankly, don’t care). He does this by enlisting the help of God, as he prays for help and gets in the form of a lightpost crumbling over and knocking out one of Sludge’s henchman.
From here on out, we get terrible sight gags (more-so than we got before), bad jokes and pithy dialogue. Instead of referencing comics, we get references to movies such as Star Wars (though I guess that is close enough), as Herbert Q is a film buff and all of his gadgets are modeled after props he’s seen in films. The only time there’s anything remotely resembling comedy is when ‘Tiny’ Lister is on screen (he seems to be the only person here who’s had experience with comedy sans Michael Rooker, whose screen time isn’t devoted to comedy). Since he only gets about 10 minutes of screen time, this isn’t enough to salvage the rest of the movie.
The only time I’ve encounter Justin Whalin was in Child’s Play 3 (which I mentioned earlier) as Andy Barclay. I thought he did a decent job in Child’s Play 3, but he’s the farthest thing from tolerable in this movie. He becomes abhorrently annoying as Ed Gruberman, as his little quirks and facial expressions don’t come off as funny or charming, but instead as smug and complacent. The rest of the cast doesn’t lend a helping hand either, as they all seem bored. Even Michael Rooker seemed embarrassed.
The only true compliment I can give Capers is the decent special effects. For a film with a low budget, the effects looked pretty nifty. The costumes and sets were nice to look at as well, and complimented the film.
Other than that (and Michael Rooker and ‘Tiny’ Lister), this film is a waste. It felt as if Ray Griggs’ (the director as well as Puffer Boy) knowledge of super-heroes doesn’t go past the movies and television shows. He seems clueless as a director, and had no sense of handling the cast or plot. Super Capers could’ve been a tongue-in-cheek look at super-heroes. Instead, it’s a humorless look from an outsider’s perspective.