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Sunday, March 29, 2009


This weekend's movie was Hancock starring Will Smith, Jason Bateman, and Charlize Theron. I'm going to try not to give any spoilers, but I can't promise something won't accidentally slip in, so if you plan to see this movie and don't want anything given away, stop reading here.

Will Smith stars as Hancock, an alcoholic superhero who's lost public esteem. He saves the day, but he causes so much damage to property, that no one is sure they want him to come to the rescue. To make things even worse, he's surly to people, lowering their opinions of him even farther. And then he rescues Public Relations guru Ray Embry (Jason Bateman) from the path of an oncoming train. Ray invites Hancock home for dinner, introduces him to his wife and son, and offers to put together a PR campaign to redeem his image. Hancock doesn't agree immediately, but comes around.

I'm going to leave the plot description there because it would ruin the movie if I went any farther.

To start, I love Will Smith and Jason Bateman. I didn't recognize Jason Bateman and only realized it was him when the final credits rolled, but oh, well. I'd heard good things about the movie and that's why I put it in my Netflix queue, but everyone called it a comedy. It wasn't. Not exactly.

And this was my big problem with the movie. The first half is a comedy, then somewhere along the way, it makes a hard turn into drama. The premise is pure comedy, the setup with the first mission after a group of bad guys is comedy, and the idea of a PR guy trying to redeem the image of a drunken superhero is comedy. If the movie had remained a comedy, it would have worked.

The second half was interesting, too, but it was a drama. Hancock learns things about his past that he didn't know and the audience learns as well. There's action and a final push by a group of bad guys to get him. If the movie had been set up and executed throughout as a drama, it would have worked.

But piecing together these two styles into one movie did not work for me. The film felt unfocused, as if the writer wasn't sure which direction he wanted to go. Or as if two different writers split the duties, one writing the first half, the other the second. The lack of cohesiveness wasn't only startling, it also prevented the script from exploring either idea fully and that left me feeling cheated as a viewer. If they'd focused on the comedy and the redemption of Hancock, that would have been satisfying. It also would have been satisfying to have the movie unfold as a drama where Hancock learns the truth about himself. As it was, both ideas felt half done and I can't help but wonder what they could have done if they'd focused on one direction.

The first half was fun, the second half was interesting, but the two parts didn't fit together.

My rating: 3 stars