By Rory L. Aronsky | April 22, 2004

My sister nearly hit it perfectly, despite seeing only bits and pieces of “Super Sucker”. She said that it was “scarier than a horror film” and she was right. Add unfunny to the list and you have Jeff Daniels’ new film.
Daniels not only writes and directs, but stars as Fred Barlow, who, as a young boy, was scared at first of the Super Sucker Vacuum Cleaner System, but quickly became enamored with it. Barlow becomes a salesman for the Super Sucker vacuum and sales have not been going so well lately. The rival team, led by old fogey Winslow Schnaebelt (Harve Presnelll) won a recent sales contest, which ended up in a huge bean fight at a diner. The boss, Sy Suckerton II, third generation President of Super Sucker Home Cleaning Systems Suckerton, is not happy about this at all, but starts a new contest because such names as Royal Buffer, Captain Cleanly, and Commando Funnel went belly-up in Johnson City, Michigan. So whoever sells the most Super Suckers will get exclusive distribution rights to an open market. And the competition begins…
Barlow takes on a new member, Howard Butterworth (Matt Letscher) to add to his ragtag group of salespeople and then they get rolling. Butterworth seems like a distant, but strong-willed cousin of Squeak “Little Bitch” Scolari in “BASEketball”, and there’s no intention to rag on him 13 or 14 more times. Barlow comes home one day, after much trouble with selling the vacuum cleaners and goes upstairs to find his wife doing it with a vacuum cleaner extension called the Homemaker’s Little Helper, which was created in 1923 by Sy Suckerton, but long since discontinued. With the idea planted firmly in his head, Fred goes to get help on this and comes forth with hundreds of newly modified Homemaker’s Little Helpers and goes straight to work. Needless to say, this becomes quite a phenomenon and sells fast.
Comedy tries to run rampant in these parts with the selling of the machines and the targets include old ladies, Tupperware parties, gay bars, nuns, and even fits in a reference to O.J., as if the man wasn’t joked about thousands of times already. There are many parts of the story that don’t make too much sense, as when the group gets arrested for an “illicit sex operation”. What is this part of Michigan? A subsidiary of Utah? Is polygamy with vacuum cleaners not allowed? Apparently, the arrest and brief imprisonment only serves to delay the group so they can proceed even faster. Don’t ask. Even the Pep Talk to Rally The Troops is given time here as well, to no success. And Dawn Wells (Mary Ann on “Gilligan’s Island”) makes a cameo appearance because she is not happy with the vacuum-extensions-as-sex-toys deal, given that her face is on boxes upon boxes of Super Suckers, as an endorsement. “We feel it is something Ginger would have used,” her lawyer explains.
The 95 minutes given to this picture are pure torture as Jeff Daniels does not know how to handle comedy. He doesn’t even know how to properly place outtakes during the end credits and they end up rolling over a good part of them. They were just as unfunny anyway. By the end of the movie, the only good thing that remains is the beginning of the story and perhaps this would have fared better as a short film.
Hopefully, “Super Sucker” will be Jeff Daniels final foray into directing and writing. NO MORE!!!!! NO MORE!!!!!!

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