I’ve been a comic book fan since I was a very small kid. Before I could read they were great to look at, and I’d have someone tell me their names, when I learned to read they were fun to dive into, even if I didn’t always understand the stories. When I became older, they were fun to read because the stories were so damn good depending on what comic you read, and when I became a man, I learned subtext, commentary, and undertones for the better, and I sought out deeper material. Either way, comic book fandom is a hobby that evolves over time, and de Graaf has the right idea of the love for comic books. There have been many an homage to the Superhero genre, but “Sidekick” is a completely different one altogether.
“Sidekick” is not so much the story of a man who discovers he has powers, but more of a man who decides to help a man with powers. He realizes the benefits of the gift, and insists on helping. Victor is a company exec who works with Norman and after Norman accidentally grabs a glimpse of his powers, he decides to help train him to use the gifts to help others. Every good superhero learns to use their powers with some source. The X-Men had Professor X, Superman had Jor-El, and the character Victor, with the potential of sheer heroics, has Norman. Good thing for him Norman is a hardcore comic book geek. As a comic geek, “Sidekick” is everything I wanted in a superhero movie, and wasn’t getting elsewhere. It was funny, charming, and possessed the exact state of mind to assure audiences that it understood the medium.
Hell, Daniel Baldwin pulls in a great performance as a comic book owner who gives the best monologue of the film about comics. Next to “Unbreakable,” de Graaf’s slice of life action dramedy is pure fandom on film, and it’s the perfect story of a man learning he can help people with his enormous gifts, while de Graaf also explores the potential for absolute power to corrupt absolutely. “Sidekick” had me in a sheer state of wonder from minute one, and that’s because de Graaf doesn’t paint these people as typical comic clichés. Norman is not some geek, he’s intelligent, and he knows how to take this power and help it grow through different methods, while Victor is a wonderful center.
David Ingram gives a hell of a performance, and he’s possibly one of the more threatening heroes/villains I’ve seen in a while. Perry Mucci also gives a very memorable performance, and he keeps the film his even in the face of a bigger supporting character. He begins as a rather pompous ass that evolves into this humanistic player who slowly realizes the potential he bears, and then de Graaf continues twisting our perceptions of this character as he slowly begins to realize he has the power to do whatever he wants. So then the question becomes, is Victor Superman or Lex? And as we learn more about him, we sympathize with his situation and back story more and more.
And the undertones behind character only make his powers a metaphor and not so much an archetype. Shit, this could very well be a sub-plot in “Heroes” and no one would know the difference. “Sidekick” is just that good. For a film a little under ninety minutes, and with a quarter of the budget of your average superhero film, “Sidekick” is an accomplishment that’s worthy of all sorts of accolades. And the reason for that is because de Graaf doesn’t settle for typical, routine, or obvious. He strives for individuality, and I was blown away. Director Blake Van de Graaf creates one of the best superhero films I’ve ever seen. It’s a wonderful companion piece to “Unbreakable” knocks all previous web slingers, and flaming skulls out of the park. It’s highly recommended for any and all comic geeks worth their weight.