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IN SHORT: average dateflick. [Rated PG-13 for some intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, and language. 92 minutes]
We never had much appreciation for the MPAA's PG-13 rating (as opposed to the general PG rating, which we felt covered just about anything) until we planted for the Will Smith starrer Hancock. It may be, no, it's definitely because we're of parenting age t hat we issue this emphatic
PARENTAL WARNING: Will Smith got famous by being the family friendly rapper and the good kid in a hugely popular television series. Hancock is a second attempt to shake that clean image and this one begins with multiple uses of a word that made one of the late George Carlin's lists of words you can't say on TV. We think it was his second list (Carlin made a whole career on those words) but that isn't t he point. The language in Hancock is completely and totally inappropriate for any kidlet under 13. They probably know the word in question but parental duties being what they are, we saw too many 8 - 10 year olds running around the theater in which we screened Hancock. DO NOT bring little ones to this film. It ain't the Fresh Prince.
What it is is a story of a drunk, basically homeless guy who happens to have superpowers he cannot explain. Nor can he explain a personal history that reaches back at least eighty years and involves movie tickets to a 1930s hit. Simply, Hancock is loaded with more plot twists and surprises than most movies we sit for (and we sit for a heck of a lot more movies than the average person). More to the point, there comes a time early on in the film when we t he viewer decides whether or not we care about what is displayed on the big screen before us. Here's that language thing again. It is distracting enough that we didn't care. Not caring we did, we admit it, duck out for two minutes to hit the bathroom. That two minutes was long enough to miss a plot twist.
That would be a big deal except that we had already passed the point of caring. Hancock had already lodged itself in our critical mind as a disposable dateflick . . . which is too bad because the back half of the film in and of itself is almost relatively interesting all by itself.
That back half brings not too successful publicist Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman) into Hancock's life. Hancock saved Ray in the first half. Ray wants to pay it back by reforming the super-guy's image and takes him on as a client. That doesn't thrill Embrey's wife Mary (Charlize Theron) for reasons that are part of the better twists in the second half of the film.
That means we're not telling. For Mary's personal history drives a whole different story in the film's second half, and we've already given the thumb's up to that half of the relatively compact running time of this film.
Then again, we're probably demographically excluded by the makers of this film. While our warning for parents with little kidlets holds, Hancock is the kind of film that is perfectly acceptable and disposable as a date flick. It's 90+ minutes of action and effects and won't be much remembered as the evening goes on.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Hancock, he would have paid . . .
language excepted, take a date. Don't take kids. Don't expect to be enthralled if the torrent of bad language is going to distract you. We didn't expect the latter, but that's exactly what happened.
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