Now Hiring (2014) – By Philip Smolen

Joe Martin (Jason Sedillo) has been unemployed for quite a while now and he’s getting more and more depressed about it. After his last rejection, he comes home to find that his loving wife (Caitlan Rose Williams) has set up an appointment for him for a ‘waste management’ position. Desperate, Joe combs through the want ads and finds an employment ad that is seeking a superhero. Joe thinks that it’s for a company that specializes in children’s parties, so he sets up an interview and lays it on real thick. He tells his interviewer Blinx (Akasha Banks Villalobos) he’s a superhero who goes by the name ‘Average Joe’ and his powers include flying, shooting lasers out of his eyes and being bulletproof. He’s hired immediately and goes to Human Resources where he meets Heinrich Rammelstein aka Dr. Mystico (a hilarious Taylor James Johnson) who gives him his uniform. Almost immediately Mystico, Blinx and Joe are called out on a real emergency. It seems that Lord Menace (Camden Toy) has hatched a new evil plan and has taken some hostages and is threatening all of San Antonio. Joe suddenly realizes he’s actually joined a real superhero team and he’s in real danger of getting killed!

Man, I loved this movie! “Now Hiring” is a dazzling satire of the Hollywood superhero movies that have saturated multiplexes for the last decade. Writer/director Mark Cantu smartly pokes fun at the genre while embracing it all at the same time. The basic idea that a regular guy (in a very ill-fitting costume) becomes part of a superhero team and teaches them what it means to fight and win as a team is both funny and satisfying.

Cantu deftly blends all the required superhero scenes (the training sequence, the loss of confidence scene and the big confrontation with the main villain) with just the right amount of comic froth. He also succeeds in creating likable superheroes full of human foibles. His direction is very effective as he builds up suspense throughout the movie until the explosive finale.

The cast is simply perfect. Jason Sedillo is ideal as ‘Average Joe.’ He’s approaching middle age and is paunchy and terrified of this new career. His facial reactions to all of the superhero situations are priceless, reminding me of a young Jackie Gleason. Cailtlan Rose Williams and Akasha Banks Villolobos offer solid support as Joe’s wife and co-worker, but my favorite cast member has to be Taylor James Johnson as Dr. Mystico. He’s has the entire ‘scientific sidekick’ shtick down perfectly.

The film also features some very cool CGI effects and some imaginative makeup and costume design as well. Composer Dave Anson contributes a rockin’ music score.

“Now Hiring” features a crisp, witty script and some bright and efficient direction, striking just the right balance between satire and spectacle. It’s a giddy, high octane spoof of the superhero universe.

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