In THE SUPER, his first starring comedy vehicle, Joe Pesci adds to his memorable rogues' gallery of characterizations.
Louie Kritski (Joe Pesci), an obnoxious, foul-mouthed New York slumlord, is summarily sentenced by the courts to reside as superintendent in one of his own filthy, collapsing black ghetto tenements for 120 days. Louie alternately battles and smirks at his new neighbors, who include street hustler
Marlon (Ruben Blades), outspoken earth mother Leotha (Beatrice Winde), religious fanatic Gilliam (Paul Benjamin), and cute kid Tito (Kenny Blank), all people who despise him as much as he despises them. He's also constantly on the make for Naomi Bensinger (Madolyn Smith Osborn), the leggy housing
authority lawyer charged with seeing that he stays put under the court order. But Louie, inevitably, is redeemed by his experience and reforms, upgrading the housing into habitable condition as he finally grasps the humanity of his tenants, while using the same experience as a means to break away
from his even more incorrigible and racist father, Big Lou Kritski (Vincent Gardenia).
Unlike the similarly plotted and peopled THE LANDLORD, THE SUPER offers a more ribald and down-to-earth view of the situation. Louie may be a sputtering racist and a sexual pig, but he is also the constant butt of his neighbors' vengeful attitudes and jokes--Blades keeps conning him, whether by
card or basketball games, out of the monthly rent roll.
Sam Simon's script is full of sharp-tongued humor, and Pesci is fine as the sleazy yet grotesquely charming--especially in his unwarranted, unending self-confidence--monster. With a background in TV sitcoms, Rod Daniel directs breezily, spotlighting Pesci's superb physical and verbal clowning. He
even gets away with Louie's last-reel "redemption"--always dangerous territory.
Other performances stray into cliche, although the veteran Gardenia is very funny as the savage elder Kritski, who will wait for spring rather than fix a boiler. Also funny are Osborne, who must literally hold the leering Louie at arm's length, and Stacey Travis as Louie's current bimbo
girlfriend, whom he brings to his slum apartment for a date and who soon leaves him flat, much to the enormous delight of his neighbors.
The gritty photography, shot on Manhattan's East Side by veteran Bruce Surtees, and the ultra-realism of the squalid settings, designed by Kristi Zea, play interestingly off the film's occasionally fairy tale-ish tone. (Profanity, adult situations.)
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- Released: 1991
- Rating: R
- Review: In THE SUPER, his first starring comedy vehicle, Joe Pesci adds to his memorable rogues' gallery of characterizations. Louie Kritski (Joe Pesci), an obnoxious, foul-mouthed New York slumlord, is summarily sentenced by the courts to reside as superintenden… (more)