“Super 8” is a really good episode of the Wonder Years mixed with Cloverfield.
After his mother dies, Joe Lamb(Joel Courtney) has trouble connecting with his father. Jackson Lamb(Kyle Chandler) is a Sheriff’s deputy and has never really understood his son. Joe would rather help his friends make a zombie movie than go to the baseball camp his father would prefer.
Joe’s best friend, Charles(Riley Griffiths), is a budding director who really wants to win an upcoming film competition. He’s bossy, has a temper and a catch phrase so he’s only a finished product from becoming successful.
The group of friends are rounded out with the nerdy tall kid, the nerdy camera man and the pyromaniac, oh and a girl, but she’s a new addition. While shooting a scene at a train station, they witness an epic train crash that they all miraculously walk away safely, save for a scrape or two.
This being a JJ Abrams movie, the train was carrying something no one was supposed to know about. The military quickly swoops in to take over the crash cleanup. The longer this goes on, the more weird things begin to happen: people disappear, weird things like car motors are being stolen and dogs are running away. By the way, any time all the animals start running away, you run the ef away too.
“Super 8” harkens back to the days of the late 70s when people were afraid the Soviets could nuke us at any moment, but children could be out at all times of the day without the threat of some guy with a van pulling up to brutally murder them. I didn’t grow up during those times, but I have to be honest, they kind of seem right.
The film focuses mostly on the children, relying on them to be relatable and carry the brunt of the emotional load. That being said, they all did a really nice job. They come off as real kids. Joel Courtney and Riley Griffiths have great chemistry together as best friends who sometimes have issues but ultimately realize friendship is more important. Elle Fanning is nice as Alice, the bad girl who comes in and is actually a really good actress in their movie. Ryan Lee also stands out as Cary, the kid with a foul mouth and penchant for blowing things up. He seems to be channeling Tanner from “Bad News Bears”, but in an endearing way. He even looks like him.
I haven’t had much opportunity to praise Kyle Chandler when it comes to movies, but I am a big fan of the television show “Friday Night Lights” where he plays Coach Taylor and does an amazing job. He has the ability to convey so many things without speaking and even when he’s being distant or angry you can see he still loves his son. I hope this movie helps more people see that and we get to see him a lot more often.
Overall, “Super 8” is about nostalgia. Even if you didn’t grow up in the late 70s or early 80s you can appreciate the honesty with which the kids approach their home spun movie. There are a few winks at future events that people who make period movies always like to slide in, but “Super 8” has enough restraint that they don’t become annoying.
“Super 8” also reminds us a great thing about children which is, even in the face of horrible disaster, the little things still matter to them. If you forgot to come to a baseball game because a giant monster is rampaging through the city, you still forgot about the baseball game.
Put simply, “Super 8” is an excellent movie. Drink a Full Energy Drink and just enjoy a time before they existed. Also, stay during the credits because you get to watch the edited together movie the kids were making and it really just makes you smile and feel good.