Has action, heart, but superhero is an alcoholic.
Popular with kids
  • Review Date: November 23, 2008
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2008
  • Running Time: 92 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Some mixed messages. There are many depictions of criminal behavior, but they're almost always foiled by Hancock and others, so it shows that ultimately crime does not pay.

Positive role models

There are both positive and negative role models here. Hancock isn't an entirely sympathetic hero. In fact, he's pretty tragic and troubled, and his presence troubles others. He's sometimes disrespectful of women, he scares children, and he shows little concern to everybody else. But he eventually comes around and is softened considerably by meeting a good guy who's so good that he's almost saintly.


Lots of fantasy/superhero action. Hancock is a pretty violent superhero. He yells at kids, destroys buildings and other things while he's performing good deeds, and manhandles criminals (one scene has him shoving a man's head into an unusual spot). He even takes on a young bully. Meanwhile, the official bad guys wield guns (shooting them frequently) and terrorize the citizens of Los Angeles on the freeway, during a bank holdup, in a liquor store robbery, etc. One criminal gets both of his hands cut off at different times; one scene shows it happening, quickly. He and his goons attack the main character.


A man kisses a woman who's married to someone else; lots of sexual tension between them, but no nudity/action.


Salty language runs the gamut, from "hell" and "bitch" to "s--t" and "asshole" -- and finally "f--k" (but since it's PG-13, use is limited).


Some labels/brands, including Ray-Bans, Dewars, Dodge, and Dunkin Donuts. Ray is a PR executive, and branding is his game.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Hancock is an alcoholic -- and a mean one at that -- who often flies drunk. Some social drinking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that although kids will definitely be interested in seeing this Will Smith superhero movie (thanks to both his presence and a massive marketing campaign), a definite tragic streak runs through it. That, along with the movie's other themes -- mortality, the meaning of love -- may prove too mature for young kids and tweens. There's also plenty of swearing (including an "F" word) and a fair amount of action/fantasy violence, including gunfire, cut-off hands, and Hancock himself yelling at kids and destroying buildings. That said, the movie also has a lot of heart (plus some good Will Smith comic moments) and isn't just your average popcorn flick. An unrated version of this DVD is available and contains a sex scene and some other material that do not appear in the original.

What's the story?

Although he's blessed with powers even Batman would envy -- he flies, can lift cars with one hand, and is bullet-proof -- John Hancock (Will Smith) is far from your typical superhero. As HANCOCK begins, he's passed out on a bench, skuzzy and surly and surrounded by empty liquor bottles. Even when he "helps," he wreaks more havoc, ripping up streets when he lands, knocking freeway signs down, and squabbling with people who are fed up with his shenanigans. So it's perfect timing that he meets up with compassionate publicist Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman), who thanks Hancock for saving his life by making it his personal cause to refashion the superman's image. Ray's wife, Mary (Charlize Theron), isn't so sure it's a good idea. But could she have undisclosed reasons for wanting to maintain her distance?

Is it any good?


Surprising and original, Hancock hooks viewers within the first 10 minutes, when the movie makes it clear that you're in for a different kind of superhero movie. Who's ever seen a hero as churlish as Hancock? Fans of comic book-based films may initially be put off, but they should persevere, despite the liberties that director Peter Berg takes with the genre's fundamentals. At the very least, the special effects are superb. And just when you think you've got the movie figured out, you're handed another bolt from the blue, as the film metamorphoses from a somewhat typical Smith buddy comedy into an unexpectedly tragic and romantic film.

Hancock takes the usual superhero movie conventions and turns them on their head: Hancock doesn't just have a tragic past that compels him to do good -- a la Spider-Man -- but is himself tragic. He has no secret identity, but he has secrets he doesn't know. That, combined with strong performances from the stars (except for his propensity to squint too much, Smith manages to turn in a fairly understated performance, and Bateman's ease belies the talent that allows him to seem realistic within a fantastical frame), makes for an intellectually satisfying superhero movie. It takes a leap of faith, but ultimately it's worth the trouble.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why kids want to see this movie -- is it because of the story, or because of all the hype?

  • Discuss why Hancock is so distant and angry in the beginning of the movie. How are both Hancock the character and Hancock the movie different from and similar to other cinematic superheroes?

  • What would you say the movie's messages are?

  • How does Hancock change over the course of the film? What do he and Ray teach each other?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 2, 2008
DVD release date:November 24, 2008
Cast:Charlize Theron, Jason Bateman, Will Smith
Director:Peter Berg
Studio:Sony Pictures
Run time:92 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:some intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, and language.

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Learning ratings

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  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 14 years old Written byOldBob13 April 14, 2010

A message about respect is drowned out by language, excessive drinking

Despite popular belief, superhero movies can indeed be funny, and the hit 2008 action-comedy Hancock proves it without a doubt. Hancock is a quirky blend of action, comedy, romance, a dash of drama and a pinch of sci-fi. Basically, it has enough variety to appease fans of many genres. You want to laugh? It's here. You want to cry? You probably will. You want to jump out of your seat? You just might. While there is plenty to like, Hancock is not a superhero movie for the young kids, and the PG-13 is spot-on, due to alcohol abuse and lots of language. Best reserved for teens or mature preteens. Other than that mentioned, Hancock also has quite a bit a violence and blood, some sexual tension, and excessive consumerism. I gave it three stars, but it almost teeters down to two. Only watch it with an open mind, and expect disappointment.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great messages
Kid, 8 years old March 19, 2010

Should be drama

Tons of violence. Most of it isn't bloody but it is action packed.Two kisses. Very strong language. Like about three uses of F**k. And ***hole a few times.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Parent of a 7 and 10 year old Written bytkmom April 9, 2008

Good movie but not for kids

This movie was very violent! I think the PG-13 rating and even the usually good information on this site are significantly understating the quite realistic violence in this movie. Don't get me wrong. The movie is well made, the characters interesting and the plot quirky and absorbing but I would definitely NOT bring kids of any age to this movie!


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