Another Saturday Night Live movie! Yay.

By Gareth Reeder

Most are familiar with Mary Katherine Gallagher, Molly Shannon’s popular Saturday Night Live character. She now joins the ranks of the many SNL sketch characters who have jumped to the big screen, with disappointing results.

Most sketches-turned-movies suffer from a simple problem: five minutes of sketch rarely stretches to an hour and a half. While some writers can develop the character and surround them with an interesting plot, but Superstar fails on both counts.

Superstar revolves around Mary Katherine Gallagher, a Catholic high school girl with big dreams and a serious lack of social skills. An outcast at her school, Mary dreams of being kissed just like she sees in the movies, and the only way she envisions it happening is by becoming a superstar.

The object of her affection is Sky, (Will Ferrell) the most popular guy in school and the best dancer. Standing in Mary’s path is Evian(Elaine Hendrix), Sky’s girlfriend–blonde, bitchy, beautiful, and a great dancer. Mary’s opportunity arises when her school hosts a talent competition in which the winner gets the chance to be an extra in an upcoming movie.

In some comedies predictability is comforting, but in Superstar it turns into annoyance. Anyone who has seen Flashdance knows the story already. The characters are fairly standard as well: Tom Green as Sky’s sidekick, Helen (Emmy Laybourne) as Mary’s nerdy friend and Slater (Harland Williams) as the cute mysterious guy with a Harley. Mary even has a wheelchair-bound grandmother. The exception is Ferrell’s Sky. Those familiar with snl know how funny Ferrell is, but he is a surprisingly good actor as well. Sky is different from the normal Mr. Popularity role, and the change is refreshing. Instead of being an insensitive jock, Sky is feminine and sensitive with hilarious results.

Molly Shannon wrote all the material for Superstar involving Mary Katherine Gallagher, and Steve Koren (snl, Seinfeld, A Night at the Roxbury) created the rest of the story and other characters.

Shannon’s talent shines through in the solo scenes. Without having to worry about plot or other characters, Shannon’s comedy is at its best. A scene with Mary talking to her own breasts is hilarious, and shows the potential Superstar has. By the end of the movie, though, Mary’s character is too pathetic, and the audience ceases to care whether shegets kissed at all.

The problem with Superstar is the writing; as opposed to a good snl spin-off such as Wayne’s World, Superstar takes on a cheesy sitcom feel as the movie drags on. By the end of the film, the viewer is bombarded with Cosby Show values about having dreams, being yourself and knowing who your friends are.

Steve Koren dilutes Shannon’s edgy comedy to make it appeal to a wider audience, but in the process, takes away the heart of the movie.

Kids in the Hall fans may see hope in Bruce McCulloch directing Superstar, but aside from a few dance scenes, McCulloch cannot inject anything new into the weak script.

Hopefully, in the future, Shannon can throw the snl monkey off her back and make comedies that challenge the viewers instead of simply making them drowsy.

Leave a comment