Monday, January 19, 2009

People should love you. They really should, okay? And I want to deliver that for you. It's the least that I can do.

Over the weekend, I decided it would be a good idea to go out with some friends. Stayed out kind of late, and almost made it home. The check gages light came on in my car, then the check engine light. The battery power slowly drained. Uh-oh...the alternator. Fingers crossed, I prayed and hoped that I would make it home. And then, at the intersection by my apartment, it stopped. My luck ran out. The car was stuck.

It was 2:30 in the morning and shockingly cold outside. Luckily, my friend lives real close and came out to give me a jump. We got enough juice into the battery to get me home, and with a little luck, I'll have enough to make it to the mechanic as well.

What does this have to do with anything? Not much. Except that it meant I was confined to my apartment for the day. And, what could possibly be better in that scenario than to catch up on the growing pile of movies I've been meaning to watch?

I'd read a bit about Hancock leading up to it's release last summer. Not much of it was good, to be honest. Here are a couple of examples from Rotten Tomatoes:

It's a pointless, plodding and just plain ugly effort which fails on just about every level. 

Smith's invincibilty at the box office may come down, for this film is a mess. Not even his charm and personality can save this train wreck.
The more we get to know about Hancock and how he acquired his name and mysterious powers, the less entertaining it becomes.
Don't expect to laugh more than five times and you won't be disappointed.

As they say, everyone's a critic. Read a lot of reviews like that about ANY movie, and your enthusiasm will wane. Personally, I'd wanted to see it, but kind of let it fall to the wayside as everything I heard made it sound so awful. Then I read this article defending Hancock. Suddenly, Hancock found itself rapidly climbing my Netflix queue.

Despite reading some reviews and opinions, I knew surprisingly little about the movie. I know that it was about a super hero and that he was an asshole, but everything beyond that was a mystery to me. Hancock is a super hero. He has the powers for it. Flight, super strength, name it. And, he fights crime. The problem is that he causes a lot of damage in the process. He's reviled by the citizens of Los Angeles. As a result, he's turned to to the bottle. He's become a tired, alchoholic jerk. He's bitter and cranky and has become used to being the object of everyone's scorn. And then he saves Ray Embrey.

Ray is a PR guy. And as thanks for saving his life, he offers his services to Hancock. Together, they'll change his public image. To start with, Hancock will go to jail. That's right, there are consequenses to his actions. Hancock will go to jail, and stay there until the city begs him to come back.

That's Ray's plan anyways. And, it works. Hancock turns over a new leaf, tries to become the good kind of hero and help the police and save the day. And the people love him for it.

This is all secondary though. Hancock isn't a super hero movie in the traditional sense. It's a movie about people, love, redemption and purpose. There isn't some looming super villain or disaster coming. There's no one that needs to be saved. That Hancock happens to have that kind of power is mostly immaterial. The simple fact is that he's a man who is lost in this world. He has no memory. No knowledge of who he is. That's the story. Hancock's self discovery is what the movie is all about.

I found Hancock to be funny, touching and engaging. A great new spin on a genre that's currently being done to death. Hancock isn't a flawed person, he's just a product of his surroundings. Imagine what would happen in the real world if there were a real Superman, or Batman. Would we welcome him? Would we accept the damage done to our cities as they fight crime? Of course not. Most people bitch (endlessly) about what they pay in taxes now. Of course we would turn on them.

All I'm saying is watch Hancock with an open mind. Ignore the commercials and trailers that show a funny, drunk, down on his luck superhero screwing up at everything. Just go into it hoping for something a little different than the usual superhero fare.


Fletch said...

But what of the terminally long ending? Or lack of any real villains (believable or otherwise)? Or the bizarre changes in tone from cartoony (heads up butts that don't require massive surgery!) to grim (uh, spoilery)?

I felt like Hancock could have been great, but that it was rushed through production faster than the dood can fly. And the end result showed it...

Unknown said...

That there wasn't a huge super villain showdown was one of my favorite things about it. That it broke away from that convention. It was something different.

He started as a laughing stock, ridiculed by those around him. The film reflected that. As he grew into his role, he became more serious and the film reflected that too.

Hancock isn't a hero defined by the villains he fights. He is his own villain in a way. It's himself that he has to overcome. His memory loss, his self pity, these are greater foes than some evil being opposing him.