I'm going to try to review "Hancock" without giving away any spoilers, because it is the clever way in which the film switches gears that make it so enjoyable. And please don't email me that I always give away the plot. When it's necessary I make sure I don't. Okay?
"Hancock" is a superhero in Los Angeles, played by Will Smith, who generates as much hatred from the residents he saves as he does thanks. It's because when he flies to the rescue he lands funny, breaking up the street, tearing holes in walls and windows, and generally messing up lives and cars; something Angelinos really count on. Not only that, he's black, he's a drunk with an everpresent hangover and a watch cap pulled down over his eyes.
Yes, they like and want him; no, they think they could do without his clumsiness; if they're going to have a superhero why can't he be like the other guys? He doesn't even wear a cape.
Meanwhile, a PR man, Ray Embrey, played by Jason Bateman, is having trouble getting corporate types to listen to his pitch about giving away their favorite drugs so the world will benefit. But one day Hancock saves him when he's trapped on the train tracks, he invites Hancock to dinner with his wife Mary (the glorious Charlize Theron) and young child, and tries to teach Hancock how to say 'good job' to people. "Goo-ood Joo-ob!" It's hard. Hancock would much rather retreat to his mountaintop trailer to drink.
So far the film has stuck to a parody of superhero films, but then an interesting thing happens in the screenplay; I can't tell you what it is without giving away the remainder of the film, which I promise you I won't; but let's just say that Hancock and Mary find something attractive in each other, and who would not?
At that point the film veers into a totally different mood - I assume the two screenwriters, Vincent Ngo and Vince Gilligan are responsible for it, though I won't give it away - and makes for a very different kind of superhero movie. Still fascinating, still witty, still a superhero movie. Nevertheless, while that's going on Hancock takes Ray's PR advice and wants to make amends to those he's injured inadvertently; he accepts his jail time for ignoring summonses and finds himself in prison with, of course, most of the men he's put there. But he still won't open up to talk about his life, even in weekly group therapy sessions.
"Hancock" is, I think, a very brave riff on all the superhero films we're being subjected to this summer, probably closer to "Iron Man" for its irony than to any of the others. I enjoyed it and I think you will too.