Mary Katherine Gallagher (Molly Shannon) dreams for a heart-stopping, Hollywood style French kiss from the 'best guy dancer' in school, Sky (Will Ferrell). Unfortunately, he's taken by Evian (Elaine Hendrix, "The Parent Trap"), a beautiful, blonde, bratty cheerleader. When St. Monica's announces a talent contest featuring a first prize trip to Hollywood and an appearance as an extra in a film 'with high moral principles,' Mary Katherine seizes her chance to become a "Superstar!"
Laura's Review: C+
Yet another Saturday Night Live sketch attempts to become a feature length film with middling results. While "Superstar" is innately likeable and features a truly gonzo performance by Molly Shannon as her SNL creation, the film is a whispy piffle featuring an uneven supporting cast and as many jokes that fall flat as succeed. We're introduced to Mary Katherine as she makes out with a tree, miming the vomit-inducing adolescent behavior she's just witnessed between Sky and Evian. Her boisterous ambition never flags in the face of Evian's withering put-downs, although her frequent overstepping of the bounds of socially accepted behavior has her frequently muttering 'Sorry, sorry...' When she's put into a special needs class, she hooks up with a new best friend, Helen (Emmy Laybourne), a tough athletic type, and draws the attention of Slater (Harland Williams, "Rocket Man"), a teen who doesn't speak and is rumored to have hacked his parents into tiny bits. Another classmate is a goth girl who frequently brings up Satan in her Catholic school environment (she performs a seemingly possessed rendition of "The Devil Came Down to Georgia" for her talent show tryout). Besides her natural gracelessness, Mary Katherine has another obstacle in her path on her road to winning the contest - her grandmother (veteran actress Glynis Johns) won't allow her to enter it because Mary Katherine's parents were stomped to death in an Irish Step Dancing competition. Of course grannie comes around and turns out to be a piano-playing choreographer who trains Mary Katherine's motley crew of classmates in a Broadway-like number. Mary Katherine gets TWO kisses after her performance and is surprised by the one she finds to her liking. Shannon is a hoot as the irrepressible Gallagher and newcomer Laybourne gets some real comic spin on her brace-wearing Helen (the two go into a Super Model Documentary fantasy when bored in Church that gave me a fit of the giggles). Will Farrell is clueless as Sky and also shows up as Mary Katherine's version of Jesus. The rest of the cast is merely fair or worse. I found any scene with Johns to be dull and MTV's Canadian eccentric Tom Green, whose show I love, just distracts and make an ass out of himself. Director Bruce McCulloch keeps things moving along, not difficult to accomplish with an under 90 minute run time. "Superstar" is unlikely to find much of an audience outside of fans of its lead character, but it does provide a smile or three.
Robin's Review: B-
Aimed squarely at fans of Saturday Night Live, in general, and Mary Katherine Gallagher, in particular, "Superstar" is an oddball coming of age movie for the survivors of Catholic school education. Molly Shannon reprises her SNL role as the willful parochial schoolgirl, Mary Katherine who, since she was a little girl, has dreamed of the perfect first kiss - her Hollywood kiss. Now a teenager, she comes to realize the only way to get "the kiss" is to become a member of the stellar community that makes screen dreams come true. She decides to become a Superstar! Having never seen Molly Shannon comedy skits on SNL, I was a little in the dark about what to expect in "Superstar." Mary Katherine Gallagher is initially a bit off-putting with her geekiness mixed with an intense belief in herself. Her nervous mannerisms, like always tripping over chairs and sniffing her fingers after tightly holding them in her armpits, make Mary a little weird. Shannon, though, gives such energy and solid comic timing to her performance, that you can't help but like the schoolgirl by the film's end. Nice touches, like Mary's nightly ritual of prayer, signing the cross, and throwing herself onto her bed in a Christ-like pose as she whispers her personal mantra - "superstar!" Shannon, with screenwriter and former SNL alum, Steven Wayne Koren, do a good job of making a comedy skit-level character into a person whose story can fill a feature length film. The creative teaming of Shannon and Koren in developing Mary Katherine for the big screen is joined with a good, comedy-laden supporting cast. Will Ferrell, who made an amusing splash with director Bruce McCulloch as Woodward and Bernstein in "Dick," is perfect in his dual roles as high school heart throb, Sky, and Mary's fantasy imaginings of God. Although he's the most popular guy and best dancer at school, Sky is really a nice person who sees Mary for the cool chick she is. As the hippie-like God, Ferrell is priceless in his delivery of advice to Mary and her ambitions: "Get jiggy with it!" After Shannon, Ferrell is the best thing in the film. Elaine Hendrix ("The Parent Trap"), as the "prettiest girl" at the school, gets to ham it up as Mary's nemesis, Evian (just like the water), and delivers a funny parody on the pig's blood scene from "Carrie." Newcomer Emmy Laybourne gives a surprisingly sensitive performance as Mary's new best friend, Helen, a natural athlete whose size and ability protects her, a bit, from others' snobbery. Veteran actress Glynis Johns is Mary's grandma and guardian who is afraid of her granddaughter's aspirations to greatness. (Granny's fear is explained as she tells Mary the darkly comic story of the death of the girl's parents, years ago, in a step dancing disaster.) Helmer McCulloch shows his improvisational roots from his time as a performer and creative contributor of "The Kids In the Hall" TV shows. His background in skit-style comedy is apparent in "Superstar," with its choppy pace as he moves from one comic moment to the next. This makes the film, overall, feel more like a series of set pieces - for instance, a Thriller-esque fantasy dance number is fun, but a little out of context. The pieces are amusing, like Mary's obsession with practicing for her first kiss, using such substitutes as a tree and a street sign pole. Mary Katherine Gallagher takes a little getting used to for the unwitting viewer. She grows on you, though, and, despite yourself, you get to like her quirky ways. For those raised in a Catholic school environment of discipline and ritual, you also get a chance to identify with Mary and have an extra laugh or two.