Movie Break: Super 8

Since we first saw ads for it circa 2010, I’ve been wanting to watch the 2011 Spielberg/Abrams sci-fi/suspense movie Super 8. Eleven years later, it’s on our youngest son Trevor’s list of movies to watch this summer, so we made it our Father’s Day, too-hot-to-be-outside choice today.

That was a good call.

The trailer is no lie: This movie evokes movies like E.T. and The Goonies, but with a more menacing edge. Think Iron Giant crossed with A Quiet Place: sweet, nostalgic, suspenseful, and genuinely scary, with enough blood and expletives to earn its PG-13 rating, but not enough to make you change the channel if watching it with your older kids.

Joel and his father (a deputy sheriff) struggle to connect after their mother/wife dies in an accident. Joel spends as much time as possible with his friends making a zombie movie for a film competition, especially after his best friend recruits Alice to add “emotional depth” to the storyline. While filming a scene at the local train station, the friends witness and accidentally record a terrifying, real-life train accident, the first of many strange happenings in their quiet Ohio town: a rash of bizarre thefts; pets running away; an increasingly hostile military presence in and around town; and people vanishing in sudden, violent attacks.

While Joel’s father struggles to keep the town calm and uncover what’s going on, Joel falls for Alice, causing tension on- and off-set of the amateur film. The two teens have a deeper and more tragic connection that causes their fathers to despise each other and forbid their kids to spend time together, to no avail.

Of course the kids will rebel, and reconcile, and get to the bottom of the mysterious happenings in town a step or two ahead of the adults. What did you expect?

The predictability is an asset here: It allows you to enjoy the ride, and the people you meet along the way. The love story is charming and (get this) chaste…and while the plot calls to mind several other movies including those mentioned about, I was never bored or disengaged. We saw heroism and virtue among the teens and the fathers, cheerworthy moments of action and comeuppance, and numerous laughs to counteract the the jump scares. Jodi, Trevor and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Check it out if you haven’t already!

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