Movie Review: Griff the Invisible (2010)

Seen: On my friend Rachel’s tv, streamed from netflix instant.

Oh hey cute Australian superhero romance? Why not? Griff the Invisible stars Ryan Kwanten as the titular wannabe superhero, a quiet office drone who spends his nights prowling the streets in a rubber suit. Bullied endlessly by a meathead coworker, he longs to battle evil-doers and protect the innocent when in his superhero guise. His boring brother introduces him to his new girlfriend Melody (Maeve Dermody), an adorable and weird lady with big ideas about science, and the sparks fly. Kind of.

Soooo I’m of two minds on this one! On the one hand, it’s an incredibly cute, whimsical romance with likable leads and an interesting take on the superhero thing. I liked Ryan Kwanten’s shy, intentionally stilted performance, and Maeve Dermody is remarkably endearing as she bangs her head on every wall trying to pass through solid matter like Shadowcat. The script is smart and the story balances Griff’s two lives well, bringing in his relationships with his brother and coworkers and offsetting that with his secret escapades. It doesn’t get too hung up on its own quirkiness, and pulls a believable romance out of abnormal circumstances. There are also some really funny jokes, especially visual gags.

BUT ON THE OTHER HAND. When it’s not being super adorable, Griff the Invisible does the Super and Defendor thing in that it sees a darker, grimly realistic side to the whole wannabe superhero complex. I’m fine with that in theory, but it’s handled strangely here. It becomes apparent pretty early on that most of Griff’s superheroing that we see is taking place in his head. He runs around Sydney late at night freaking people out as he battles imaginary villains. His brother references some problems in his past, believing he needs looking after. It’s pretty clear that while adorable and well-meaning, Griff has actual issues that should probably be looked into through therapy or something. The movie takes the stance that it’s better to indulge Griff in these fantasies as long as he’s not hurting anyone, since he just sees the world differently and shouldn’t have to conform to a more “normal” outlook. I totally get that, and it’s a message many other stories have, but in this case it made me feel a little uncomfortable because it is something that interferes with the character’s regular life. He has trouble interacting with people and has lost multiple jobs because of his delusions, and even gets arrested at one point. I don’t know. At first I was like oh no why is no one helping Griff with his problems? Then I was like oh man I have become one of those boring suits-type villains who stomp all over imagination and whatnot because they just want everyone to be normal, I should totally be supporting his superhero dreams! IT’S TEARING ME APART.

Anyway. This movie is cute but I guess it left me with some concerns. The friend I watched it with absolutely loved it though, probably because she is not a grouch who finds fault with everything. Good for her!


Pair This Movie With: I know it makes the most sense to recommend another realistic superhero movie but actually this just put me in the mood for Danny Deckchair, another whimsical Australian romantic comedy.

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