A Comic Escape

Griff the Invisible ★★★
(Australia, 90 min.)
Written and directed by Leon Ford.
Starring: Ryan Kwanten, Maeve Dermody, Patrick Brammal.
Oh, superhero fantasies. Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a dream world where one could beat the bad guy, save the world, and get the girl? As kids, we enjoy playing make-believe with action figures and/or imaginary friends. For Griff though, playtime never stopped. Now, in his twenty-seventh year, Griff plays the role of superhero morning, noon, and night (with the occasional work shift in between). 

Ryan Kwanten of True Blood stars as Griff, as well as his alter-ego Griff the Invisible. Griff is an awkward social recluse, but his double life as a super hero allows him to escape the troubles of his mundane life, such as the office bully who picks on him, and it gives him a boost of confidence, especially after prowling the alleyways to save helpless Australians from thuggy hoodlums.

While Batman has Alfred to confide in, or the X-Men have each other, Griff has nobody with whom he can share his superhero skills. So is the case until he meets Melody (Maeve Dermody), a sweet song stuck to the lips of Griff’s older (and lamer) brother Tim (Patrick Brammal). Melody takes an instant liking to Griff’s strange ways. More importantly, she delves into fantasy just as much as Griff does, so while Tim tries to curb Griff’s comic book ways, Melody nurtures them. Together, Griff and Melody make an awkward, amiable duo. They are like Kick-Ass and Hit Girl as imagined through the title characters of Eagle vs. Shark. Dermody especially drives the film through Melody's endearing enchantment with Griff's fantasy land.
Griff the Invisible runs with the caped crusades with a flair of originality and a fun eclectic soundtrack.  Writer/director Leon Ford displays an able hand at blurring fantasy and reality, but when the time is right, he also reveals to the audience the limits of Griff’s imagination. The shift puts a fun spin on Griff’s plight and thankfully refreshes the gag of seeing a full-grown man run around in an odd rubber suit. While the exploits of Griff the Invisible run on far too long, the central story of Griff and Melody is cute and droll enough to sustain the film. Watching these two charming playmates with arrested development is much like enjoying a childhood game of Batman and Robin and such: Griff the Invisible is a fun, good-natured escape. 

Griff the Invisible plays at The Bytowne through Tuesday, October 4.