Monday, July 07, 2008

Thoughts on the film: Hancock


I know everybody on earth has weighed in on this movie already but I just can't let that be the end of it. I saw it yesterday at a Grove matinee and it made me sad.

Maybe it was the people in front of me who decided it was a good idea to bring three four year olds to a PG 13 movie where they alternately yelled and cried and ran up and down the aisle during the film. Please, parents of the world, I know it's a daytime showing but if your child only knows three words of English and the sight of Will Smith makes him scream in terror, you may want to go see something a little more his speed so that everyone else in the theater doesn't beat you to death with nachos.

But I don't think it was those people who made me upset about the movie. It was the fact that the story was lacking.

Not in special effects because, good lord there are special effects. This was an extravaganza for the eyes of which Michael Bay is no doubt extremely jealous.

And it's not Will Smith because I would watch that man put on a plastic bag and stare at the camera for like three hours as long as he kept smiling that goofy smile. I would let that man do unspeakable things to me. Un. Speakable. Things.

SPOILERS for both the script and the film

In the script there's a scene where Hancock is so depressed he can't even get his rocks off with a hooker so he goes into the bathroom and masturbates with so much force it blows the roof off. Not only is that hilarious, but it shows just how broken down this man is emotionally. I feel like in the film we're left with a bunch of sad looks and exposition to tell us he's lonely.

In the script there's a scene where he is so broken and lonely and depressed that he shoots himself in the mouth repeatedly but he can't even kill himself because he's invincible. It's a terrific scene and my heart was breaking as I read it. That's not in this story at all, I guess because you can't have a suicidal hero or people won't feel all warm and fuzzy.

In the orignal script the dad, who was a loser until Hancock came along to make him seem like an even bigger loser, saves his son's life and redeems himself. In the film he knocks a guy out, saving Hancock in a moment that is okay but doesn't really connect to anything that was previously set up. His set up as a loser isn't that big a deal in the film because they have a nice house and a nice car and live in a nice neighborhood and the wife loves him, so I don't really see too much lacking in his existence.

In the script, the wife gives Hancock a haircut, touching a man who hasn't been touched with a gentle hand in a very long time. It's thick with sexual tension and longing. In the film, they exchange a few glances and some dialogue in the presence of her son.

A lot of paths were missed here.

Charlize Theron, who plays the wife, is considerably stronger than her husband but pretends she can't open a jar so he feels better about himself. What a cool theme - a wife hiding her true nature so her husband feels like a man - but it went unexplored. The end result of the story is that two people who love each other - so I'm told, anyway - would rather live apart than die together. Isn't that backwards from what we're always supposed to believe? What an interesting topic that went unexplored.

It was funny and fun to watch, but it wasn't what I'd call good.


  1. Everyone talks about how great the original script is, and I still have yet to get my paws on it.

    Which is too bad because it sounds really really good.

    I can just picture an exec reading the scene where he shoots himself and crossing that one out right away.

    I imagine those two scenes could've upped it to an R rating... or at least close.

  2. Anonymous3:57 PM

    I thought it was good, just not as good as it could have been. Maybe Iron Man 2 will do the right thing and show us what a real drunken hero should look like. Doubt it though. Do you have that script in PDF form? If so can you email me it?

  3. The things from the original script that you mentioned make it sound like a more interesting film than what got made in ways that go beyond a simple R/PG issue. It sounds layered, complicated...more interesting. And you make some good points about what's wrong with it as it was filmed. I haven't written about it, and I guess I won't, just because for all the stuff that's been said about the third act supposedly going haywire, I thought the whole thing was kind of blah. Forgettable. Kind of enjoyable at points but no more.

    Also, you really should just go to the Arclight. It might be a few dollars more, but there wouldn't be all these hassles that seem to happen when you go to the Grove.

  4. My complaint with the film was the lack of the development of the villain. Other than Hancock's foiling of his heist what motivation does he have? They sure made it seem like there was more to his story and his relationship with Hancock & the wife.

    I have heard that Berg's R-rated cut slowed the film down a bit, but I am curious to see it. It seems like the other plot points in the original script would be something very appealing to my interests, but would it play in Peoria?

    That being said, I enjoyed it a lot as a popcorn movie. As a critical viewer I still liked it, but was left asking for more in this story.

  5. I read the original script and concur with your comments. In particular, the Hancock character is more deeply layered and we get to see those layers. I too loved the scene where he's shooting himself ... but I can also see where a studio exec would cringe at that since, superhero movie = children in audience (regardless of the rating).

    I was also bothered by the lack of villain development. I know it was about him and his inner struggle, but the villain really could have been made more real without requiring a tremendous amount of extra screen time.

    I did enjoy it as a purely entertainment flick, as long as I turned the thinking parts of my brain off.

    BTW - You don't know where I can find the script to "Knowing" (the Nicolas Cage film) do you?

    Still digging the blog ... and looking forward to your short films ... any progress on those edits?


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