Tuesday, February 9, 2016

A too-quirky superhero spoof

Ryan Kwanten is Griff , a superhero determined to be invisible.
Ryan Kwanten is Griff , a superhero determined to be invisible. MARK ROGERS
About the movie
Griff the Invisible
Comedy; Drama; Romance
MPAA rating:
for some language and violence
Running time:
Release date:
Patrick Brammall; Maeve Dermody; Marshall Napier; Kelly Paterniti; Ryan Kwanten; Heather Mitchell; David Webb; Anthony Phelan; Toby Schmitz; Andy Minh Trieu
Directed by:
Leon Ford

Griff, the super-quirky crime-fighting superhero in Australian director Leon Ford's meta-quirky pic Griff the Invisible, is on a mission to rid the city of evil, he tells a girl desperately in love with him.

His is a dangerous life, one with no room for love.

Sounds grim, but Griff, who is played by an impossibly restrained Ryan Kwanten (True Blood), is more Pee-wee Herman than Dark Knight. His story isn't a thriller but a gentle, if not entirely satisfying, satire of superhero culture in the vein of Super, Kick-Ass, and Defendor.

Like those cruder, if funnier, flicks, Griff the Invisible is about a regular, if socially awkward, Joe who is so immersed in superhero worship he decides to make his own costume and prowl the night looking for bad guys.

When we first meet Griff, he is locking down the location of a villain using a super-cool-looking, multiscreen computer tracking device.

And . . . Shazam! Griff's on the street, in a nifty black Batman-ian costume, all rippling (plastic) muscles and abs. He jumps the bad guy and his three nasty pals and beats them into a submissive pulp.

By day Griff is a timid, Clark Kent-ian office drone who is mercilessly bullied by his colleagues. He tries desperately to remain invisible, lest he be picked on. Griff's invisibility obsession extends to his nighttime activities: He works tirelessly to create an invisibility cloak. In a hilarious scene, Griff makes an invisible-ink cloak by soaking a plastic rain poncho in baking soda and lemon juice.

It works! Or does it? And does Griff want to be invisible so he can fight crime or to avoid being mocked?

Ford slowly and cleverly unravels Griff and our initial impression of him until we begin to wonder how much of what he does is total fantasy. Does he fight crooks? Does he actually don his costume at night? Heck, does he even own a costume?

Griff's life takes a radical turn when he meets his brother Tim's (Patrick Brammall) girlfriend, Melody. Played by the lovely Maeve Dermody, Melody is as quirkily kooky as it gets. She spends hours every day trying to line up her atoms with those of her bedroom wall in the hope of passing through it. (She has a permanent bruise on her forehead for her troubles.) Bored with Tim, Melody falls for Griff. But he rebuffs her - his is a dangerous superhero's life after all! Or is he just scared of women?

Griff the Invisible revels too much in quirk, in a quirky-for-its-own-sake attitude. It tries too hard to be eccentric, kooky. So hard, it can be downright annoying.

It is partially saved by Griff and Melody's halting love story, which gives it real heart and charm.

Contact staff writer Tirdad Derakhshani at 215-854-2736 or tirdad@phillynews.com.

Inquirer Sideshow Columnist
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