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Confessions of a Superhero (2007)
Rated R

Starring: Christopher Dennis, Jennifer Wenger, and Maxwell Allen

Rating:
***1/2
out of
*****

Hollywood lures many people with the promise of fame and fortune. Some make it big but most do not. Some lucky souls manage to carve out enough of a niche for themselves to survive. Confessions of a Superhero documents the stories of four people who have managed to eke out a living making tips as comic book super-heroes and having their pictures taken with tourists.

Christopher Dennis, a former meth addict who claims to be the son of actress Sandy Dennis, dresses as Superman and has been doing so for the past 13 years. Dennis has a huge collection of Superman memorabilia in his tiny L. A. apartment on which he claims that he's spent about $90,000. He says that he's trying to be an actor when he's not posing for pictures on Hollywood Boulevard, although we only get to see one rather pathetic performance as an extra in a Z-grade movie.

Joe McQueen dresses up in a stuffed Incredible Hulk costume. As a young black man, his arrival to Hollywood couldn't have been timed much worse as he came to town in the middle of the 1992 riots. McQueen says he was homeless for four years but now lives in an unfurnished apartment. He claims he's had trouble finding acting work because of his teeth but does land a role in a comedy near the end of the documentary.

Maxwell Allen, who looks a little bit like a weathered George Clooney, dresses up as Batman and tells us (and a psychiatrist) about his dark past. A former bodyguard and, apparently, gangster, Allen has anger issues. He knows it and so do the authorities as Allen is shown getting arrested for disorderly conduct when an altercation with union workers on Hollywood Boulevard gets a little out of control.

And then there's Wonder Woman, Jennifer Wenger. She traveled to Hollywood from Tennessee and dreamed of making it as an actress as I'm sure do many teenagers. Undeniably, she seems to be the most driven of the four people documented in the movie. She goes to an acting coach and has an agent. She's seen auditioning for roles and trying to make something happen career-wise. Unfortunately, as the cameras roll, her marriage seems to be disintegrating.

Director Matt Ogens doesn't make any overt judgments about the four people he chronicles. He lets each of the "heroes" tell their own story and paint their own picture of themselves. One might feel obligated to feel sorry for them or cheer them on when they find success. Or one might feel totally indifferent. Ogens doesn't try to sway the viewer into having an opinion but he does a good job of showing how far some people will go to survive in Hollywood -- all the while deluding themselves into believing a director or producer will notice them on that sidewalk out in front of the Chinese Theater.

Confessions of a Superhero is an interesting look at the underbelly of Hollywood that never gets too seedy. If you've ever had your picture taken with any of the characters on Hollywood Boulevard (or plan to), this film might make you re-think the amount of your tip.

Trivia: Jennifer Wenger has found work on TV shows like "My Name is Earl" and "Mind of Mencia".(Source: The Internet Movie Database)

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