Last week, I saw Hancock. I went into this movie thinking it would be a dark comedy about a superhero who just doesn't care. What I got was a dark comedic drama about a superhero who has serious emotional issues. I won't say I didn't like it because I did, but it just threw me when I wasn't laughing as much as I thought I'd be.
Will Smith is Hancock, a superhero who drinks too much, makes horrible decisions, and hates being called an asshole. When he tries to save the day, he causes massive amounts of damage and just angers people in the process. Hancock isn’t the kind of man who cares what other people think...until the day he saves the life of PR executive Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman), a man who himself is on a mission to save the world by getting big companies to make big charitable contributions. Ray sees the good in everyone and decides to help Hancock by improving his attitude and image. Ray's wife Mary (Charlize Theron), on the other hand, thinks that it's all a bad idea. She says it's because the drunken Hancock is a lost cause, but there seems to be more she's not sharing.
When Hancock is funny. It's funny. Personally, I never thought I'd laugh so hard at someone getting something shoved where it should never be shoved, but I had tears in my eyes. I also love Hancock's issue with people calling him an asshole because it reminded me so much of Marty McFly and his "chicken" issue. But even the funniest parts didn't make up for the extremely serious moments.
It's OK to have serious tones in a comedic piece. In fact, Peter Berg has built his career on mixing comedy and drama, but for this movie, it just seemed a little too ill-balanced. Seeing Hancock depressed in his prison cell was a little too much of a downer for me. And his anger management meetings really didn't do much to make me laugh or boost the story. Plus, the climax is full-on dramatic with quick cuts, intense music, and stark lighting--something that just feels out of place in a superhero comedy movie. I think the story got a little confused about what kind of feeling it wanted to portray which, in turn, probably effected the actors.
Jason Bateman and Will Smith turn in decent performances. I've seen them both do better work. Bateman's comedic timing is great, but he doesn't seem as comitted to the comedy as he does to the serious. Will Smith, on the other hand, seems to be working the other way. He's really comitted to the funny parts--making Hancock into a very angry, darkly funny guy. His dramtic part, though, seemed a little forced and over the top. Which is weird since we've all seen Smith turn in some pretty damn good dramatic performances. Theron is really a side character here and doesn't get to shine until the last part of the movie, but she too seemed a little off her game.
All and all, I don't regret seeing the movie. I enjoyed myself and laughed heartily at moments, so I would recommend it, just on DVD.