Hancock is a superhero on the skids. Played to the brilliant hilt by current #1 super-star, Will Smith (I Am Legend), Hancock drinks too much whiskey, doesn’t bathe, dresses like a bum, and he’s so angry about being the only superhero on the planet, that every time he rescues someone, he hurts someone else in the process. The guy can’t just stop the speeding SUV filled with machine-gun toting jerks–he has to fly the vehicle and the screaming miscreants inside it to the top of a local skyscraper and stick it there, causing millions of dollars of damage. He’s snarly and disrespectful and hates little kids, who hate him back. Actually everybody in Los Angeles hates him because he’s such a–well, I might as well call him what everybody else does–he such an asshole. Instead of applauding Hancock when he–finally–arrives on the scene to save the day–everyone hoots him. Not the best scenario for a dude who should be the poster boy for “truth, justice and the American way.”

One day Hancock saves the life of public relations consultant, Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman, Juno, The Kingdom) by stopping a speeding train headed straight at him. Ray is so grateful, he brings Hancock home for a good meal of spaghetti and meatballs. Ray’s wife is Mary Embrey (Charlize Theron, In the Valley of Elah, Aeonflux). From the moment Hancock and Mary meet, there’s no question that something has–and is–going on between them. We don’t know what yet, but we sure know these two are not complete strangers.

Ray is determined to help Hancock. He puts him on a one-on-one intensive to enhance his image–simple things like: being nice, saying “good job” to others, learning how to land from a flight in space like a ballet dancer instead of a jack hammer. All Hancock needs to start his self-improvement program for real, Ray thinks, is a little detox and some anger management. Since Hancock has about 600 warrants from people who want to sue him for messing them up in his botched rescue missions, the logical place to get a little alone time is behind locked doors.

Ray convinces Hancock to check himself into the local pokey. Hancock has personally helped put most of his prison mates in the joint in the first place, so they aren’t real thrilled to see him. Hancock has to perform some pretty gross super-hero stunts to get those pumped up meanies to show him a little respect.

Hancock does stay away from the liquor but group therapy is a little more difficult–and pretty hilarious, as he listens to tell-alls from a totally sorry collection of bad guys.

But soon Hancock learns that he’s not the only guy who has complaints about life–and he’s the only one with superpowers to change things. .

After two weeks without Hancock, the crime rate in Los Angeles has risen 30% and even the police want the superhero to come back to work. Following Ray’s advice. Hancock arrives in the middle of a huge hostage crisis in a skin-tight black leather super-hero outfit. He cringes in embarrassment, but nevertheless gets right into crime-solving mode and proceeds to perform super feats with good manners and little collateral damage. At long last, Hancock has become his real self. People love him! It takes him a moment to realize that bystanders are applauding him instead of swearing at him. You’ll have to wipe away a tear of joy.

Up to this point Hancock is great fun, quirky and hilarious. Director Peter Berg (The Kingdom) creates incredible action scenes and brings out terrific performances from all the actors. Will Smith especially proves every minute why he’s become the best in Hollywood.

Then the movie takes an odd turn and goes into a whole other story, with different–and deeper, I guess–meanings. The way you think the movie is going to go from its first scenes is not what actually happens, so don’t be surprised if at some point in the movie you hear yourself mutter, “what the–?” It’s not a bad ending, it’s just totally out of left field. That doesn’t change the fact that the first part of the movie was downright wonderful and many people will like both parts just fine.

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