Joshua Reviews Darin Beckstead’s Somebody’s Hero [Waterfront Film Festival 2012]

With the recent rise of comic book and superhero films, the idea of taking a comic character and giving him a post-modern, real life sense of vitality is almost as common. However, one thing that hasn’t really been attempted yet is, the story of a man, taking a superhero mantle, but instead of battling foes with strength, he becomes a symbol. Spin that idea on its head, turn it into a romantic comedy, and that’s what Somebody’s Hero is here to try. And thankfully, while it’s flawed, there are very few romantic comedies as truly charming and entertaining as this one.

Hero follows a simple enough premise. An accountant tapped to help with his firm’s biggest account meets a widow, only to spark a deep relationship with her and her son. However, when he goes to pick up a costume to connect with the child, he steps up to protect two others in the store, and dons the mantle of Man America, a patriotic ass-kicker. Saccharine sweet, the film may be cavity inducing, but be damned if this doesn’t charm your pants off.

Helmed by Darin Beckstead, the film stars Christopher Gorham as Dennis Sullivan, an accountant who one day, meets Katie Wells, played by Susan Misner, and becomes smitten by her and her lovely young son, Jake. All three of these actors give outstanding performances, particularly Gorham, who really adds a lot to the film. Gorham and Misner’s chemistry is absolutely palpable, and both of their relationships with the young child are equally as superb. The film thrives when it focuses on these three and the world that they inhabit, and despite the comic book histrionics, the pictures is really intimate, really charming, and its due to the three performances at its core (along with some stolen scenes starring Novella Nelson).

However, while the script may be the film’s biggest star, visually, the film leaves the viewer wanting more.

Visually, the film isn’t anything all that special. What it is however is a perfectly serviceable bit of filmmaking, with some really great touches such as superb photography and a great sense of humor, drawn directly from his solid, if cliché-ridden, screenplay. With its themes and emotional musings directly worn upon its sleeve, Hero is aggressively sentimental and melodramatic, with cartoonish, out of nowhere philosophizing that put into any other film, would come off as proselytizing and out of place. However, the great thing about this picture is that it has such a sense of sweetness and charm to it, that all of the syrupy, caramelized romance feels real and engaging given the great performances, and crackerjack chemistry.

That all said, the film is not without flaw. Clocking in at just a little over 80 minutes long, the film feels twice that. Poorly plotted and speeding at a molasses pace (I’m really tossing the hyper sweet analogies out here), the film ramps up to a conclusion involving our two leads and their relationship that feels plausible, but plausible from the very first second we are introduced to the pair. It’s tough for a romantic comedy to nail an intriguing conclusion (simply because it may very well be the most rigorously trope-ridden genre in film), but here it’s laughably anti-climactic.

Overall, Somebody’s Hero is a flawed crowd pleaser that, if you allow yourself to get sucked into the romance and ‘you must stand up, if not for yourself, but for others’ message, you’ll be hard pressed to not be charmed by this warm and loving comedy. Featuring a handful of great performances, it may not be the most rewarding watch ever, but I’ll be damned if this one doesn’t win you over by the time the credits roll.

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