S.G. Browne

Less Than Hero: My Super Inspirations

B82pUXECAAAKNl3If you haven’t had a chance to check out the back cover copy for my new novel Less Than Hero, here’s the gist in a nutshell:

A group of professional human guinea pigs who make their living testing experimental drugs in Phase I clinical trials develop unusual side effects that they  project on to petty criminals who prey upon the homeless and helpless of New York City.

So yes, my superheros make people vomit, develop rashes, and suffer from convulsions and rapid weight gain.

Obviously these aren’t your classic superheroes. No men of steel or dark knights. No caped crusaders with superhuman strength or masked crime fighters with spider-sense. No one who is faster than a speeding bullet or able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. It’s more like:

Faster than a spreading rash! More powerful than dry heaves! Able to put villains to sleep with a single yawn!

Mystery_Men_film_posterMy superheroes have more in common with the band of crime fighters in Mystery Men than they do with The Avengers. As a matter of fact, Mystery Men is one of the main superhero inspirations/influences for Less Than Hero.

I saw Mystery Men in the theater back in 1999 and loved it. The next year I saw X-Men, followed by Unbreakable, both of which made a lasting impression on my imagination. I didn’t know it at the time, but those three films would be instrumental in the eventual writing of Less Than Hero.

UnliXMen1posterke a significant portion of today’s superhero fans, I don’t have a background in comic books. I didn’t read superhero comics as a kid and I don’t read them now. But I watched a lot of superhero cartoons and TV shows growing up and I enjoy catching superhero films at the multiplex. However, while I’m a fan of the Spider-Man and Batman and Avengers franchises, certain superhero films strike a chord more than the others.

Mystery Men appealed to me because the heroes were just ordinary people with unusual talents who wanted to make a difference. Plus I loved the humor. X-Men hooked me with the concept of mutants and its social commentary on prejudice and discrimination. And I loved Unbreakable because it was about an ordinary man discovering his extraordinary abilities and, eventually, a purpose that gave his life meaning.

UnbreakableposterwillisIn a way, Less Than Hero encompasses aspects of all three films. The characters, while they exist on the fringe of society, are normal people who end up wanting to make a difference, with the main character, and several of the others, searching for meaning in their lives. And while there aren’t any themes of prejudice or discrimination, there’s a definite social commentary on prescription drugs and their side effects.

Less Than Hero is the modern prescription for our over-medicated society, coming to save the day March 17, 2015.

Filed under: Less Than Hero,Movies and Books,Novels — Tags: , , , — S.G. Browne @ 7:26 am

Movie Review Monday – Mystery Men

I don’t know many people who saw this film when it came out in 1999, which is reflected by it’s meager box office take. But just because a movie doesn’t make any money at the theaters doesn’t mean it’s not worth seeing. Most of the movies on my Top 10 List of All Time Favorite Films weren’t considered box office successes. And while Mystery Men isn’t on that list, if you enjoy fun characters and riffs on the superhero films, then you’ll enjoy this one.

Champion City has been virtually cleansed of criminals by the corporate-logo-clad Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear), who is frustrated because his publicist can’t get him anything better than a battle with The Red Eyes at an old age home. It doesn’t help that Pepsi has just dropped him as a sponsor and that he’s in danger of losing his other endorsement deals. So Captain Amazing’s alter ego, billionaire Lance Hunt, decides to help argue for the parole of his nemesis, Casanova Frankenstein (Geoffrey Rush), so he can position himself for maintaining his sponsors and status. Unfortunately, Captain Amazing’s plan backfires and he’s captured by Casanova Frankenstein.

In the meantime, a trio of less-than-glamorous crime fighters – Mr. Furious (Ben Stiller), The Shoveler (William H. Macy), and the fork-flinging Blue Raja (Hank Azaria) – find themselves struggling for notoriety and respect. To improve their standing and help them to rescue Captain Amazing, they enlist the help of The Spleen (Paul Reubens), The Bowler (Janeane Garofalo), and Invisible Boy (Kel Mitchell).

With the help of the terribly mysterious and wisdom espousing The Sphinx (“He who questions training only trains himself at asking questions”), the group of ragtag superheroes takes on Captain Casanova and attempts to rescue Champion City’s superhero.

The dialogue is excellent, the casting pitch-perfect, and the art direction outstanding. Yes, the premise is somewhat silly and there are several minor plot issues but you’re not watching this film for it’s credibility or social commentary.

Put it on your Netflix queue.

Filed under: Movie Review Mondays,Movies and Books — Tags: — S.G. Browne @ 8:52 am