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Ghost Canyon

Movie Reviews
(Will Smith, Jason Bateman, Charlize Theron, et al / NR / 86 mins / Sony Pictures)

Overview: A once-popular superhero (Will Smith) has now fallen from grace and is reviled by his formerly adoring public. Hoping to become the idol of millions again, he hires a public relations expert (Jason Bateman), which is a good move until he starts dating the expert's hot wife (Charlize Theron).

Review: When Hancock stops a car full of gun-toting gangbangers, he destroys assorted vehicles and a freeway sign and defaces a local monument in the process. When he tosses a beached whale back into the ocean, he capsizes a boat. Hancock is clearly the guy the term "collateral damage" was invented for.

Worse than that, Hancock has a blistering tongue, something the film's trailers have taken care to avoid revealing. That a film with dauntingly profane diatribes that would make a stevedore blush got a PG-13 rating, while the much sweeter Election was saddled with an R a few years back, will be catnip to those who think the MPAA ratings board (which reportedly twice gave Hancock an R before further cuts changed its mind) invariably gives away the store to major studio releases.

Things might have gone on like this forever for Hancock - who knows how long a superhero's liver can hold out - if he hadn't one day saved the life of a man named Ray Embrey (an agreeable Jason Bateman), whose car was trapped on railroad tracks with a train bearing down. Embrey turns out to be a good-natured public relations man who believes in making the world a better place and specializes in image consulting. Though his wife Mary (an initially underutilized Charlize Theron) takes a visceral dislike to Hancock, Embrey decides nothing will do but that he will help this reluctant superhero to clean up his act.

Some of this stuff, like training Hancock to ask politely before rescuing someone and to say "good job" even when people are not doing one, is amusing. But when Hancock agrees to go to jail for the damage he's caused, the result is an anatomically challenging encounter with a pair of inmates that makes an even further mockery, if that's possible, of the film's puny rating!