Hancock - Directed by Peter Berg.
Hancock (Will Smith), a stubborn superhero who’s not quite “super” according the public given his bad reputation with them. He happens to save the life of a public relations agent, Ray (Jason Bateman), who helps Hancock to ameliorate all the bad publicity circulating around him. The strategy includes, among other things, a superhero costume so that he won’t look like a homeless drunkard. Charlize Theron plays Ray’s wife and the surprises that happen between her and Hancock won’t be revealed here. Those expecting a non-stop action adventure loaded with special effects will be disappointed that there’s more drama than action. Co-screenwriters Vincent Ngo and Vince Gilligan include scenes that gyrate too often between comedy, action and drama without excelling in either genre. Also, some of the subplots seem a bit contrived and convoluted even though the ideas behind them are quite imaginative. Director Peter Berg, whose last film The Kingdom suffered from nauseatingly shaky camerawork, still shakes the camera, but less often, and he awkwardly films some scenes in close-up shots. Nonetheless, at running time of only 92 minutes, Hancock does have its fair share of thrills and excitements; just don’t expect to be thoroughly amazed or exhilarated. Number of times I checked my watch: 2. Released by Columbia Pictures.
The Wackness - Directed by Jonathan Levine.
During the summer of ‘94, Luke (Josh Peck), about to graduate high school, trades drugs for therapy with his psychiatrist, Jeff (Ben Kingsley), while flirting with Jeff’s stepdaughter, Stephanie (Olivia Thirlby). Jeff has problems of his own when it comes to the lack of chemistry that he has with his wife (Famke Janssen). While Luke goes through teen angst and Jeff experiences a midlife crisis, the two gradually form an unexpected friendship. Both guys have sex and drugs on their mind, but what’s more important is that they implicitly share a desire to figure out their identity and to fit into society. Josh Peck sinks into the role of Luke with plenty of ease and adds an offbeat charm and sweetness that allows you to care for him as a real human being. It’s quite funny to just watch Ben Kingsley’s whacky psychiatrist character smoke dope, give crazy words of advice and, yes, even he even briefly makes out with a trashy hippie (Marie Kate Olsen). Writer/director Jonathan Levine expertly captures the essence of the ‘90s era when Mayor Guiliani went on a mission to clean up all the sex and drugs throughout the city, especially in Times Square. The dialogue has a rare organic, colloquial quality to it that manages to be funny, witty and smart even though the characters themselves aren’t particularly smart nor are they even close to being role models. Even though it lacks the profound insights that other “grown-up” teen movies, such as Ghost World, have, The Wackness still manages to be a refreshingly real and captivating drama. Number of times I checked my watch: 0. Released by Sony Pictures Classics.