If you're skeptical about "Rainn Wilson, Romantic Hero," wait 'til you got a load of "Rainn Wilson, Psychotic Avenger."
The minion from "The Office" dons a couple of cloaks in "Super" that aren't meant to flatter him. This unsettlingly violent satire is directed by James Gunn, the hometowner who honed the ick factor in the alien-infection flick "Slither."
Gunn is working with a much smaller budget here, but the raw aesthetic suits the story of dorky diner cook Frank (Wilson), who comes unglued when he loses Sarah (Liv Tyler), the beautiful-but-troubled waitress who married him for his normalcy.
After recovering-addict Sarah is lured back to the dark side by drug dealer and strip-club owner Jacques (Kevin Bacon, an oily treat), Frank gets a visit from Jesus — and morphs from a sobbing victim to a seething vigilante who calls himself the Crimson Bolt.
Using a monkey wrench to readjust the skulls of pedophiles, phony-pot dealers and hipsters who butt into movie lines, the mysterious Crimson Bolt builds a fan base that includes comic-book clerk Libby (Ellen Page). When Libby learns the secret identity of her uncoolest customer, she offers her services as a sidekick and sexual plaything.
The libido and bloodlust flowing from the pint-size Page is the funniest thing in the movie, but elsewhere, the mix of the goofy and ghastly is hard to digest. As in "Kick Ass," the slicker crime-fighting film with which "Super" will inevitably be compared, unanswered questions about our guilty pleasures are part of the point. Ambiguity can excuse a lot of sloppiness, and sometimes "Super" could use the certitude of its hero, but the weapon it wields instead is a scalpel to see what's inside us.
Three stars (out of four) • Rating Not rated • Run time 1:36 • Content Extreme violence, strong language and drug references • Where The Tivoli. Gunn will attend the screenings at 7 and 9:30 p.m. Friday.