Spaghettiman (2016)


USA. 2016.


Director – Mark Potts, Screenplay – Winston Carter, Benjamin Crutcher, Mark Potts & Brand Rackley, Producer – Reilly Smith, Photography – Molly Becker, Music – Vance Kotrla. Production Company – Luminis Pictures/Heckbender


Benjamin Crutcher (Clark Kant/Spaghettiman), Winston Carter (Dale Atkins/Shadowman), Brand Rackley (Anthony Vanner [Anthony Banner on the credits]), Joe LiCicero (Keto), Leigh Wulff (Katie Vanner), Kevin Brennan (Officer Garibaldi), Doug Manley (Officer Betts), Samir Forghani (Zamir), Evan Weinstein (Dwayne), Brandon Raman (Dean), Blake Rosier (Gabriel), Jack Norman (Nightbandit), Jacob Cormier (Larry), Janna Jude (Stephanie), Matt Hobby (Dr Stump), Mary Grill (Miss Hansen), Jeremy Culhane (Homeless Kid), Erin Mcgown (Pizza Customer), Anthony Gioe (Wheelchair Man)


Clark Kant is fired from his pizza delivery job after eating two pieces from one of his deliveries. A slacker, he has little clue about how to set about finding a job. His roommate Dale, a walked-over clerk at the LAPD with dreams of being a cop, agrees to support him. Clark nods off while leaving a bowl of spaghetti in the microwave, only for it to undergo strange mutations as he dozes. He wakes to find that he can now project spaghetti from his fingertips. He is witness to a purse snatching and quickly flings spaghetti to drive off the attacker. Placing a paper bag over his head, he calls himself Spaghettiman and decides to be a superhero. He then reasons that he can make a living by asking those he aids for money. He even puts an ad on Craigslist advertising his services. He then encounters Anthony Vanner, a freelance news videographer who has been taping him in action, and they agree to team up to split the profits. Meanwhile, Dale deplores the fact that Clark is not using his powers for good and concludes that the only solution is for him to go over to the dark side and become a super-villain.

The creation of Mark Potts, an indie director who has been making similar kinds of absurd shorts and films for a decade – some sample titles include S&M Lawn Care (2010) and Alcoholic Braggarts Anonymous (2013) – Spaghettiman is the most absurd film-going experiences this author has sat through since I can’t really remember when. The idea of a superhero being a prematurely-balding man with a paper bag over his head who flings spaghetti from his fingertips with enough force to knock people out may possibly be about the most ridiculous thing to grace superhero cinema screens since probably Troma’s Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D. (1990) with its superhero who adopts Japanese-themed motifs.

Not everybody is going to get Mark Potts’ low-tech, no-effects approach. However, Potts’ sarcastic deadpan struck a note with me and I found Spaghettiman frequently hilarious. One of the film’s greatest aces in the hole in Benjamin Crutcher. With a mop of wispy, prematurely-balding Albert Einstein hair and a clueless, whiny, zero charisma slacker attitude, Crutcher is maybe the least likely actor you would think to cast as a superhero. And yet the way the role emerges on screen, it is hard to think of any other actor who so completely is the part with every aspect of their personality than Crutcher. Some of the pieces of nonsense we have here – the opening scene with Crutcher as a pizza-deliveryman facing an angry customer who has discovered he has eaten several pieces; Crutcher’s even more clueless attempts to sit through a job interview with a hand-written (or perhaps more aptly hand-drawn) resume – are gems of comic playing. Elsewhere, the film’s line-up of inept henchmen and lackeys is downright side-splitting.

As a superhero film, there is an appealing realism to it – most superheroes, for instance, live in an economic fantasy where their sojourning to fight crime seems to exist independent of having to hold down a job and regular working hours or consideration of how they fund the R&D for their hi-tech devices. The rather hilarious plotline that runs through Spaghettiman is the perfectly reasonable idea that the superhero’s immediate concern is to turn his world-saving abilities around to finding ways to pay the rent and then begins soliciting assignments based on how much each job pays.

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