It’s been a very long time since a comedy made me laugh quite as much as Teppo Airaksinen’s Supercool. It’s a hysterical coming-of-age movie that instantly feels in the vein of Superbad, Good Boys, Booksmart, and even another indie fave, Premature. Director Airaksinen describes it as The Hangover meets Lady Bird. A fantasy tweak to the narrative is highly reminiscent of 1988’s Big. Whatever the similarities to other projects, Supercool establishes itself as a brilliant exercise in comedic genius that can easily stand among the greats. Beyond the raunchy humor, the friendship at the heart of it all is a beautiful foundation for the crazy antics of Neil (Jake Short) and Gilbert (Miles J. Harvey). It’s also powered by a fantastic nostalgia-fueled soundtrack that fits the movie like a glove.
While other guys nab hot chicks, Neil nabs premium PornHub subscriptions. He has a crush on a seemingly unattainable cutie Summer (Madison Davenport), weaving her into his drawings. Neil’s best friend, Gilbert, urges him to make a wish at 11:11, and as fate would have it, Neil wishes to become super cool. The next morning at school, Gilbert doesn’t recognize Neil. He looks in the mirror, and he’s a supermodel (played by Josh Cranston, from time to time). Using his newfound good looks, Neil (now going by Ace, inspired by Ace Ventura) nabs an exclusive invitation to Summer’s party. In a run to impress Summer, Neil and Gilbert set out on a night of debauchery and hijinks that will lead both young men on a journey of self-discovery.
Supercool starts with a bang in an exciting bus chase scene that’s just as big as something you’d see in a big-budget action film. It pulls a complete bait and switch, snapping us from Neil’s imaginary reality and into the real world. From this point on, it hops from one hilarious scenario to the next. It morphs into an ensemble feature, with every cast member contributing to the larger whole. The plot is always moving and flowing, and the fantasy of it all is completely organic to the character development of Neil.
I loved the choice to keep actor Jake Short as Neil for the entirety, and only showing his alternate through reflections or other creative ways. They could’ve taken the Big route and kept the new actor through the majority of the time. Instead, the charisma of Short is able to glimmer. The chemistry between Neil and Gilbert only works because of these two actors and the way they play off each other. Miles J. Harvey is equally compelling as Gilbert. Miles is a true scene-stealer—he holds his own against both Short’s Neil and Damon Wayans Jr’s Jimmy. Gilbert’s alone time with Jimmy evolves from weird to comforting. Wayans Jr. is having an excellent year in comedy, fresh off his overbearing secret agent character in Barb & Star Go to Vista del Mar. Jimmy is wild and outrageous, and he is perfectly cast. Who else could deliver a line like “this is my first man on man extravaganza,” but in a convincingly funny way.
I related so much to Neil’s struggle with awkwardness and anxiety with having a crush. The best kinds of comedies are the ones you can relate to on a personal level, and Supercool manages to nail the emotions of teenage angst. With this comes a certain level of cringe: Neil barfing on Summer during lunch is a prime example of intense secondhand embarrassment. If Summer was an awful person, it would give the film a certain cynicism. It remains hopeful and joyous, all the way through to the adorable conclusion. As it gets crazier and crazier, the relatable elements keep it grounded emotionally.
The real love story is the platonic relationship between Neil and Gilbert. Jake Short and Miles J. Harvey have fantastic buddy chemistry and an indelible bond. They aren’t even afraid to use “I love you” in a normal context. The bonds of brotherhood culminate in the most unlikely way. The centerpiece of Supercool is a joyous friendship dance, set to Haddaway’s “What is Love?” It’s a sequence I’ll forever associate with this movie and the amazingly fun ride it takes us on with this unforgettable duo. Just remember, “never underestimate the power of a good dick suck.”
Supercool had its world premiere at the San Francisco International Film Festival, April 9th – April 18th.