Sidekick (August 5/06)
Though it's been shot on digital video and undeniably has the look and feel of an indie effort, Sidekick certainly comes off as a far more accomplished and flat-out entertaining piece of work than some of its similarly-themed Hollywood brethren.
Newcomer Perry Mucci stars as Norman Neale, an introverted comic book fan who is pushed around by virtually everyone in his office - including an alpha-male type named Victor Ventura (David Ingram). After noticing Victor's abnormally keen reflexes, Norman begins spying on the man and eventually comes to the realization that his co-worker possesses extremely low-level telekinetic powers. Spurred on by fantasies of becoming a sidekick to a bona fide superhero, Norman begins training Victor in the proper use of his preternatural abilities - though it soon becomes clear that the two men have very different ideas about how Victor's powers should be used.
Sidekick, directed by Blake Van de Graaf, moves at a brisk pace and features several better-than-expected performances, with Mucci and Ingram particularly effective (the former does a nice job of transforming his character into more than just an anti-social nerd; indeed, Norman ultimately comes off as a surprisingly relatable figure). Screenwriter Michael Sparaga infuses the storyline with just the right balance of irreverence and awe, ensuring that the movie remains plausible even during some of its more fantastical sequences - while, at the same time, sporadically poking fun at the inherent cliches of the superhero genre.
And although the film's visuals in no way belie its infinitesimal budget, Van de Graaf's creative directorial choices go a long way towards developing (and maintaining) an air of professionalism. Sidekick's only real misstep comes in the form of a mid-movie plot twist that probably would've had a more pronounced impact had it occurred at the climax. Still, that's a relatively minor complaint for a movie that is otherwise remarkably engaging and watchable.