Molly Shannon brings
Mary Katherine Gallagher
to the big screen with charm and big laughs
Click on the images to see them larger, with credits.
By Gertie Triviana
Gertie must rise in defense of "Superstar," which has been unfairly slammed in the trashpapers and other popular media.
It's not great, but it's a funny film, and we had a good time when we saw it!
This is Molly Shannon, taking her Mary Katherine Gallagher character from "Saturday Night Live" to the big screen. Some of the trashpaper cranks said it was too much of a stretch to go from skit to full movie, but they were wrong, as they so often are.
Mary Katherine is a Catholic schoolgirl who seethes with fantasies of fame and romance under her dowdy school uniform. Her lively imagination multiplies any insult and any compliment. When she has a triumph real or imaginary she drops to one knee, arms thrown out to her imaginary audience, proclaiming herself "Superstar!" It's a good bit.
Her days at school are filled with torture from her classmates, including taunts from her foremost rival, Evian -- played by Elaine Hendrix as the standard-issue high-school most popular blond girl.
Mary Katherine has her romantic sights set on Sky Corrigan, played by Will Ferrell, also a "Saturday Night Live" performer. Sky is the best dancer at the school, the most popular boy, and of course is hooked up with Evian.
Now, the first willing suspension of disbelief human bean viewers have to do when watching this film is to accept that all these 30-something and 20-something actors are high school kids.
If you can buy into that, you may as well buy into the rest of the silliness in this film, which is largely corny, but a lot of fun.
Shannon is pedal-to-the-metal, no-holds-barred throughout the film, acting out the life of a lonely but creative and energetic schoolgirl.
If you've seen the TV ads, you've seen her kissing that tree, so you know what Gertie means!
In that scene she is practicing for when she gets to kiss Sky, and pretending that the tree is Sky. It is very, very funny, and Gertie tips her hat to Shannon for it!
(Dr Gone told Gertie that when he was a lonely teen, he sometimes practiced hugging and kissing his pillow, until he finally got a girlfriend. "The practice helped,'' he told me. When I was young, I didn't get a chance for practice. Practically as soon as I could walk, male skunks were hitting on me! I have always been popular, unlike Mary Katherine Gallagher.)
Shannon is also wonderful in just how she presents herself: Plain, even cranky looking a lot of the time. She probably could look prettier, but that wouldn't help the character. She gets comedy points for this.
There are lots of funny scenes other than just the kiss-the-tree bits, and the kiss-the-stop-sign-pole bit. Gertie especially liked Mary Katherine's fantasy in the cafeteria, when all the other kids in the school became the chorus line for a robot dance starring her and Sky.
Mary Katherine and Evian have a fight scene that is fall-down funny.
Harland Williams is on hand as Slater, the scary guy on the motorcycle. Gertie won't give away his surprises here. (Gertie liked Williams a lot in the movie "Down Periscope," starring Kelsey Grammer, and so is usually glad to see him working.)
It was a delight to see Glynis Johns in this film, playing Mary Katherine's grandmother, who has forbidden her grandchild the right to dance. Because, as it turns out, Mary Katherine's parents were not torn apart and eaten by a school of hammerhead sharks, as was previously believed, but were actually stomped to death by some hyperactive step-dancers. (Don't ya just hate it when that happens?)
The only sad part about Ms. Johns isn't she didn't have a lot of dialogue wherein we could clearly hear her wonderful voice -- which is part of her charm. Still, it's great to see a long-time favorite.
Special kudos go to Emmy Laybourne, who was wonderful and hilarious as Helen, Mary Katherine's best (only?) friend. Laybourne's teeth braces probably deserve their own credit line they are part of a marvelous performance as a sweet and nice girl jock who is kind of goofy and nerdy.
Helen and Mary Katherine have an extended mutual fantasy scene in church that is broken up by Mark McKinney as Father Ritley.
In the theater or on video?