The superhero team known as The Heroics have always been a big part of young Missy Moreno’s life. Sure, they’ve long been a part of everybody’s day-to-day—the whole world relies on their protection and good-guy exploits. But for Missy, it was different.
You see, Missy’s dad had once been a superhero member of the Heroics himself. He was even the group’s leader at one point. After Missy’s mom passed away, however, her dad stepped back from active duty and promised to never fly into danger again. And Missy has held him to that vow.
But … sometimes promises must be broken.
After a massive armada of attacking space ships shows up and takes out the Heroics current leader, Miracle Guy, as easily as swatting a buzzing fly, every super far-and-wide is ordered to swoop in to the rescue. That means Missy’s dad, too.
He always said that a true hero must sacrifice and lead by example, so his choice only makes sense. But Missy is still a little ticked. And she’s not so happy about being shuffled off into a room filled with the kids of the other heroes either.
I mean, they’re all nice enough, I guess. But they’ve all got powers, just like their parents, and Missy is completely superpower-free: never had ‘em, and likely never will. She sticks out like a very impotent sore thumb. That, however, isn’t even the worst of it.
When those super-tech-powered aliens start swatting down the other members of the Heroics and taking them captive—including Missy’s dad—the kids all decide it’s time for them to join the fray, too. But what can Missy do?
She doesn’t have super strength or elastic limbs or a singing voice that can levitate objects. She’s got nothing but the common sense to know that if they don’t work together as a team, they’ll likely bomb out, too. It’s not like Missy can even “lead by example.” I mean one alien tentacle could smash her into oblivion.
All of that begs the question: Can a girl with no superpowers make any difference at all?
We Can Be Heroes suggests that, yes, everyone can make a difference. Being a good, wise leader and being a solid, supportive teammate are both vitally important roles to play while fixing the future’s problems, the movie tells us. And different people have different skillsets for those roles.
Though the actions of both the good-guy kids and the aliens can sometimes feel completely illogical and borderline ridiculous, we also see that learning to get along with others and figuring out how to make friends can make life (and doomsday scenarios) a little easier.
By movie’s end, parents and kids hug and speak of their pride and love for one another.
There’s nothing directly spiritual here. But one particularly angry character is encouraged to calm down and meditate. And we see her doing so in a cross-legged lotus position.
The curvy female director of the Heroics facility wears very form-hugging outfits.
There’s quite a bit of thumping action here. The kids use their superpowers to bash multi-tentacled bad guys and holograms, smash objects all around them, and send themselves and others sailing on a regular basis. But when the thumping involves human foes, the kids tend to provide cushioned surfaces for baddies to land on, and nothing appears particularly painful. In fact, the tiniest super (who’s maybe 6 years old) tosses human baddies around the most, and it comes off as rather silly looking.
Our heroes encounter some lightly perilous moments, as the kids crash down to the ground in a levitating trolley car and fall from dangerous heights. But one superpower or another always saves them in the nick of time.
Laser-like blasts from alien spacecraft zap and knock out adult heroes, and large, electronically created beasts roar and threaten, but nothing is ever bloody or deadly.
We hear a couple OMG exclamations, along with a “what the heck” and an unfinished “what the …?” A kid interrupts himself mid-expletive and says, “holy … doo doo.”
The movie makes lightly covered, winking comments about some current political figures (designed more for watching parents). The super-kids make the choice of rebelling against rules and authority (a choice that’s applauded since they’re setting off to save the world).
Remember that old Trix commercial featuring a certain silly rabbit? It declared that the sugary, multicolored cereal the bunny so longed for was … just for kids! Well, director Robert Rodriguez has taken that same approach with his latest superhero flick, We Can Be Heroes: It’s sugary and silly, sometimes nonsensical, and definitely for children.
On the plus side, that means this dizzy bit of cinematic super-duper is fast-paced and light-hearted. It’s also filled with lots of CGI-enhanced action and grasping alien tentacles while steering clear of bruising violence or foul language. And it even has some wispy kid-sized lessons about working well together for the benefit of all.
On the other hand, this kiddy pic often feels like it was crafted by a kindergartener, too. The hokey script is empty of logic, the acting is just a bit better than a 6th-grade play, and the closing emphasis that “children should be in charge” will make any adult watching let loose with a real chuckle.
But hey, we all know that the silly Trix rabbit was only peddling a belly full of sugar. Something hearty and nutritious wasn’t really in the offing. And you shouldn’t go expecting it here either.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.