Unfortunately, I saw Hancock yesterday. The first half of the movie was pretty good. The second half makes me wish I had one of those machines from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind that let's me target and erase specific memories.
I'm not going to write about the second half (I'm trying to purge it from my memory). Instead I'll describe the set-up and then talk about how I probably would have written the second half.
The set-up is actually pretty good. It makes me think that the movie started out as a high-concept pitch and then got written by committee. "Imagine Will Smith as a homeless, drunk, anti-social superhero..." That was probably enough to get the movie made right there. They probably figured they didn't actually need to write a good script because Smith's star power alone would pull people into the theaters. Unfortunately they were probably right.
Hancock lounges around on benches staying drunk, but occasionally rouses himself to actually intervene and do some good, but his efforts end up having mixed results. He catches the bad guys, but usually causes millions of dollars in collateral damage as a result. Plus, he's rude and smelly, and he insults everybody, so everybody hates him.
Then one day he saves a PR guy from being killed by a train. The PR guy takes him home to dinner and offers to help him repair his image. On his advice, Hancock starts to turn over a new leaf. He surrenders himself to prison, gets clean and sober, and goes to counseling. When the Chief of Police calls for his help, he shaves, gets a new suit, and saves the day at a bank robbery.
Then the movie goes off the rails.
So here's how it should have gone...
First, there was a scene in prison in which Hancock literally shoves one inmates head up the ass of another, and for some reason I believe they were playing the theme song to Sanford and Son when they showed the actual shot. It was a bizarre, unfunny, and grotesque scene. Cut it.
Then have the mastermind of the bank robbery actually be...a mastermind. Make him an intelligent, evil guy...an actual force to be reckoned with as a counterpoint to Hancock. Hancock defeats him initially, and puts him away in prison. While in prison, the bad guy develops a plan to avenge his defeat and destroy Hancock. Maybe he's able to get access to the prison hospital and find Hancock's medical records, and he figures out a weakness.
Meanwhile, Hancock is struggling to fit into his new role as clean and straight good guy. He's tempted to fall off the wagon. He's not any happier now than he was before.
And then the bad guy breaks out of prison, kidnaps someone Hancock cares about (maybe the PR guy's kid), and forces a confrontation. The bad guy exploits Hancock's weakness, and almost kills him, but Hancock prevails.
At the end of the movie, he finds some middle ground between being a drunken misanthrope and a squeaky clean superhero. Maybe we have a final shot of him back on the bench from the beginning of the movie, in normal clothes, trying to decide what to do with his future.
Maybe it's not Shakespeare, but it's about a thousand times better than what did happen. Oh, and the movie would have been way better without any attempt to explain his origins. That's one mystery I would have been fine not ever uncovering.