Film review: Super, The

Published: Saturday, Oct. 19 1991 12:00 a.m. MDT

From the school of louder is funnier comes "The Super," an excruciatingly forced comedy in which everyone, from the stars to the director to the person who chose the overpowering rock songs that punctuate the score, simply tries too hard.

The premise has potential: A slumlord (Joe Pesci) is ordered by the court to reside in his own rundown tenement building until he gets it up to code. Otherwise he goes to jail.

In this case, Pesci has one building, which was given to him by his bigoted slumlord father (Vincent Gardenia). Dad has only one rule about being a landlord: Don't fix anything. And this building is, more or less, a test to see if Pesci deserves to be in Dad's will as heir to the rest of his ragged rentals.

So far, Pesci has proven that like father is indeed like son. He's completely insensitive to the needs of his tenants and has let the building become a rat-infested mess, complete with crumbling ceilings and backed-up plumbing.

After moving into his new abode, Pesci continues to ignore the needs of his renters, under pressure from his father. But eventually, as you might suspect, the people in the building get to him — especially a troubled young boy. And before long he's repairing the building, socializing with them and even dancing at their weekend parties.

Meanwhile, he's befriended by hustler Ruben Blades and tries, in his own vulgar way, to romance the woman who prosecuted him, Madolyn Smith Osborne.

But "The Super," rated R for a steady stream of profanity and vulgar one-liners, is slapstick at its most broad. There is none of the grace of Laurel & Hardy, however. This is more reminiscent of the Three Stooges — in their decline.

Pesci tries hard, as does the rest of the cast, and every now and then there is the hint of what might have been. But the shrill level of the dialogue, the constant pounding of the very loud background music and the jokes that seem to be an afterthought, obviously added to the soundtrack in post-production, undermine any nobler intentions.

Worse, the film is sometimes surprisingly mean-spirited, and there's even that old desperation standby joke, a child swearing.

Trust me. Every slightly amusing moment this movie has to offer is in the previews. Just watch for a 30-second TV commercial and save yourself $5.