1999, PG-13, 82 min. Directed by Bruce McCulloch. Starring Molly Shannon, Will Ferrell, Mark McKinney, Harland Williams, Elaine Hendrix, Glynis Johns, Emmy Laybourne.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Oct. 8, 1999


Fetishists of women's white cotton underpants will think they've died and gone to heaven when they attend a screening of Superstar, but let's hope their audience numbers are few -- and far between. Actually, I was hoping that in this day and age of Camryn Manheim dedicating her Emmy trophy to all the fat girls everywhere that Molly Shannon's popular Catholic schoolgirl character from Saturday Night Live, Mary Katherine Gallagher, would do this movie for all the awkward girls in the world. Well, a girl can hope, can't she? Superstar is not the movie that will catapult awkwardness into disease-of-the-week popularity, but that just may be too much to ask from a Saturday Night Live offshoot. These feature film projects have been spinning off from SNL sketches for a couple of decades now -- and sooner or later they're going to get it right. A funny character with a couple of trademark catchphrases does not on its own constitute a funny movie. Even at 82 minutes in length, Superstar feels uncomfortably stretched. Though she only smells her armpits a few times and falls over a stack of chairs only once, the attempt to give Mary Katherine some back history and home life is incredibly flat. There are a few decent yuks, but most of all Mary Katherine seems to evoke an uncomfortable empathy in viewers. Her desire to be kissed and to become a superstar are the motives that drive this movie. What I don't understand is why the Catholic League is all over a movie like Kevin Smith's soon-to-be-released Dogma (their protests provide good copy for the nightly news), and a movie like Superstar doesn't even cause a blip on their radar. There are things going on at St. Monica's High School that I'm sure would get their (cotton) panties in a wad. How does a scene such as the one in which a manifestation of God comes to Mary Katherine in her bedroom to advise her to “get jiggy with it” pass the League's blasphemy censors? Is there no justice? Or is it just true that Catholic school girls have all the fun?

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Bruce McCulloch Films
Dog Park
Kids-in-the-Hall alum McCulloch's directorial debut barrels out of the gate with a promising pedigree only to collapse just shy of funny and this side of ...

Sarah Hepola, Oct. 1, 1999

More by Marjorie Baumgarten
SXSW Film Review: The Greatest Hits
SXSW Film Review: The Greatest Hits
Love means never having to flip to the B side

March 16, 2024

SXSW Film Review: The Uninvited
SXSW Film Review: The Uninvited
A Hollywood garden party unearths certain truths

March 12, 2024


Superstar, Bruce McCulloch, Molly Shannon, Will Ferrell, Mark McKinney, Harland Williams, Elaine Hendrix, Glynis Johns, Emmy Laybourne

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle