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Hancock: A New Kind of Superhero Movie

I'm not totally sure who the intended audience is for Hancock. The superhero aspect is campy enough for kids (and sometimes way too campy for adults), but there's definitely language that doesn't seem suitable for youngsters. Perhaps the teenagers will most enjoy the movie, though as an adult I liked it well enough and I certainly applaud what the story attempts to accomplish: tell a superhuman's story with the emphasis on the "human" experience. In a world overly saturated with superhero movies, this angle is actually pretty refreshing.

Also, it's a mainstream movie focused on a black superhero and I gotta say, it's about damn time.

Will Smith is Hancock, a modern-day superhero who's fallen out of favor with the public. For every good deed he does, he leaves a staggering amount of destruction in his wake. Hancock is surly, drinks constantly and has intense anger management problems. But when he saves the life of PR guy and general do-gooder Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman), Ray offers to help Hancock turn around his image. He devises a strategy for making the public stop taking Hancock for granted, while coaching him on how to seem more like a hero and less like a careless drunk. As Ray spends more and more time with Hancock, his son Aaron grows attached to the superhero, though Ray's wife Mary (Charlize Theron) seems constantly suspicious of him. Ray helps Hancock change his image, but that's just half the story; Hancock's past includes many more secrets he didn't even know were there.

For more of my take on the movie,


At it's most basic, the premise for the story is really clever. It's similar to the way Seinfeld manages to be funny while merely waxing philosophic about everyday things: If we look, quite seriously, at what it might be like for a modern-day superhero — especially one with rage issues — what challenges might this guy face? Might the public turn on him? Might he forget his strength and heave a whale into a boat? These would be real issues for a real superhuman, though to us they're just interesting and funny. Where the movie drags considerably is when it tries to be super dark, somber and overly dramatic.

Nobody is a better pick for this role than Will Smith. There are probably better comedians out there and there are guys who are good at being the badass. Smith, perhaps like his character, easily achieves a balance of two beings. He's a funny badass superhero.

And yet the best part of the whole movie is the relationship between Ray and Hancock. One of my favorite actors, Bateman is a funny guy on his own and within an ensemble cast, but when paired up with such a larger-than-life character, he's completely hysterical — and so is Smith. Like Bateman's former onscreen "son" Michael Cera, he plays the straight man like few people can: guilelessly, optimistically, truthfully. He's really just a good, normal guy trying to do his thing, and when set against Smith's great, off-kilter character, it strikes a perfect comedic balance.

It's a silly movie, for sure, and how much you like it will probably depend on your tolerance for silliness. It's not a masterpiece. But it is a pretty fun way to spend a couple of hot summer hours.

Photos courtesy of Sony Pictures

Join The Conversation
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i think that if this movie had come out during a time when there weren't soooo many amazing super hero movies, then it would have been more impressive, but going up against Iron Man, and Dark Knight and even Wall-E - it's just hard. i enjoyed it though, and i think that it'll do well - it's just not his BEST movie of the summer.
RustyAngel73 RustyAngel73 8 years
I wanna see this one.
Frank-y-Ava Frank-y-Ava 8 years
Haven't seen Wall-E and didn't have intentions of seeing Hancock. But we'll see, its gonna be a long summer for me! As for the black superhero thing, you're right Buzz. I don't know how long this will last but black people are becoming more mainstream.
pickle pickle 8 years
I saw it last night too and loved it, then saw Wall-E this afternoon and loved it as well. I think that the two are slightly similar in that each has a certain subtlety, moments where the film speaks rather than the character, yet critics loved Wall-E and bashed Hancock. I'd highly recommend both, although I think some kids (like my 9 year-old niece) might think Wall-E is too "subtle" (aka "boring").
hebrew-hunny hebrew-hunny 8 years
I saw it last night. I really enjoyed it.
WhatTheFrockBlog WhatTheFrockBlog 8 years
I definitely want to see this but I'll wait for the DVD.
ehadams ehadams 8 years
I really wanted to see this, then I saw so many bad reviews of it. I will probably see it anyway this weekend.
blondie829 blondie829 8 years
I want to see this!
stephley stephley 8 years
Yea! a movie that my kid wants to see that I now don't dread. It sounds like something we'll both enjoy and talk about.
northofantastic northofantastic 8 years
I've read a few reviews that made me question whether I wanted to see Hancock or not, but I think you've restored my optimism. Thank you, Buzz! :D
simplyfab87 simplyfab87 8 years
I'm seeing this movie in like 2 hours. Can't wait. yay Jason Bateman!
sunny1intucson sunny1intucson 8 years
I love Jason Bateman!! I didn't realize he was so tall until I saw him on the Today Show with Matt Lauer and Meredith Veira. They all looked so short compared to him.
radarkitty radarkitty 8 years
Another movie I really want to see!
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