May 14, 2010

[Movies] Superstar (1999)

Superstar (1999)It's always fun when semi-popular actors and actresses make cameos or appearances in highly publicized movies or top rated TV shows for no particular reason. They don't need to be key to the plot's progress or anything like that. They just need to show up and instantly the trigger memories of their other works and characters portrayed.

I felt that way when I watched Glee the other day and caught the appearance of Saturday Night Live's Molly Shannon. She was always pretty quirky during her SNL days and at the time I loved her work on the show tremendously. She had the joy of portraying some of the more insane characters on the show and certainly made a mark on TV history that way.

In terms of movies, there's one that always stands out when it comes to her and of course it had to be the one based on one of her more popular SNL sketches.

Superstar was the 1999 feature-length film centered around one of Molly Shannon's craziest characters, repressed Catholic school girl Mary Katherine Gallagher. In her TV appearances, she was known for extreme mood swings and sometimes violent behavior. Plus she'd often express herself through movie monologues and other such quotations. IT was pretty interesting how they eventually managed to flesh out her character in order to create a complete movie about her.

Shannon at the 2008 Tribeca Film FestivalImage via Wikipedia

In the movie, Mary Katherine Gallagher (Molly Shannon) is still a dysfunctional Catholic school girl currently obsessed with high school "hunk" Sky Corrigan (Will Ferrell). In order to get his attention, she becomes determined to find a way to become a superstar, thus often embarrassing herself or getting into trouble with Sky's girlfriend, Evian Carrie Graham (Elaine Hendrix). Given her social challenges, she eventually gets transferred to Special Education.

Once the school announces a big talent show to fight venereal diseases, Mary sees her chance and puts everything into trying to get into the talent show. However Grandma Gallagher (Glynis Johns) is fiercely against her joining the show for some reason, but Mary refuses to give up until she can become a true superstar.

Given the very nature of Mary Katherine Gallagher (and yes, I get a kick out of quoting her entire name), it's a tad difficult to understand her serial killer style murmuring at times, but it's all part of the character. Molly Shannon just shines in this movie and it's a wonder why she doesn't get more roles as a character actress. I can't think of any other actress out there who could have brought this character to life in the same way she did. She leaves no question that the movie is all about her and any other characters involved are just more background.

Sure, the story is intensely stupid given the writers even tried to explain some of the nuances of why Mary is the way she is (like her movie monologues come from her after school job as a VHS tape rewinder), but it's still fun. This is not a movie that's going to change your life or give you a new sense of meaning and fulfillment. It's just a silly, campy movie that you're going to enjoy watching after a long day.

The main benefits of this movie remain to be (1) almost any scene with Molly Shannon in it, (2) the limited dance / performance routines and (3) the absurd explanations for Mary Katherine Gallagher's quirks and neuroses.

Superstar is going to remain to be the kind of movie that I'll return to from time to time in order to cheer myself up. It gets 3.5 inappropriate positions for a priest to be caught in out of 5.

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