Griff the Invisible (Indomina Releasing, PG-13)

Don’t let the superhero trappings fool you: Griff the Invisible is a quirky indie romance through-and-through, and a fine one, at that.

 

If you’ve ever worked a soulless office job, you know that daydreaming can be vital to making it to quitting time, even if you don’t face the kind of abuse and harassment that Tony (Toby Schmitz), a smarmy jerk with a stupid haircut, metes out daily onto the shoulders of Griff , a painfully awkward shipping company phone jockey played with nerdy charm by Ryan Kwanten (Jason Stackhouse of HBO’s True Blood). Though he’s bullied by day, by night Griff is the one defending the downtrodden by donning a rubberized suit and defeating thieves and hoodlums as the neighborhood superhero, also conveniently named Griff. This superheroing is nothing new, as Griff’s long-suffering brother (and only friend) Tim (Patrick Brammall) knows all too well. Tim tries to break Griff out of his shell by introducing him to his new girlfriend Melody (Maeve Dermody), but that plan backfires when it turns out Melody is every bit as off-kilter as Griff is. Melody is obsessed with learning how to pass through walls, and when she discovers Griff’s plans for an invisible suit, the two join forces to revel in each other’s arrested development.

 
Don’t let the superhero trappings fool you: Griff the Invisible (a 2010 Australian film just now seeing a stateside release) is a quirky indie romance through-and-through, and a fine one, at that. The combo works because writer/director Leon Ford (in his feature film debut) plays the superhero scenes straightforwardly, capturing the stylized action of your typical superhero flick (he’s clearly studied Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films) with a healthy dose of dry, deadpan humor. It’s refreshing that Ford didn’t feel it necessary to resort to broad spoofery, and that he doesn’t chase an R-rating with over-the-top violence or raunchy language to try to sell the film as something it’s not.
 
The bulk of the film is spent in Griff’s everyday world, giving Kwanten and Dermody (who are both positively magnetic in their roles) a chance to endear the viewer to the characters’ many charming idiosyncrasies. The scenes set in Griff’s office or his Spartan apartment sell the film’s reality so well that the superhero scenes seem too good to be true, but Ford and his actors still succeed at melding the two such that the film barely falters when fantasy and reality finally, inevitably collide and things take a sharp turn towards the dramatic in the final 15 minutes.
 
That the film doesn’t quite stick that landing is about the only negative thing I can say about it, but even that complaint is a minor one. As the saying goes, it’s not the destination, it’s the journey, and this heroic journey mixed with a healthy dollop of humor and romance is definitely one worth taking. | Jason Green
 
 

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