Super 8 and Hesher ends. Abrams' film held Spielbergian family flicks in high esteem, while this one owes more to Mary Poppins.
The aforementioned son is TJ, a depressed and reclusive young boy who lives with his father and grandmother. One day, in a fit of frustration, he smashes the window of an abandoned house and inadvertently unearths Hesher, an unkempt hardass metalhead. Hesher, now homeless after being chased from his squat, ingratiates himself in TJ's broken home by literally just walking in like he owns the place. But unexpectedly, he has some life lessons to teach his reluctant housemate.
I believe Hesher is of a similar mould to Mary Poppins, and later, Uncle Buck, in as much as it is a story about a family's problems being solved by a benevolent outsider who arrives in their home and fixes their lives. In the case of this film however, the outsider comes in the unlikely shape of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as a terse and grungy son of a bitch who wanders around shirtless, displaying what look like self-drawn tattoos of stick figures and angry faces. Julie Andrews, he ain't.
Devin Brochu's TJ is exasperated in all the right ways as Hesher lands him in trouble with his bully at school, again and again. It's the equivalent of watching an adult teach a child to swim by flinging him into a pool with a shark or some other underwater menace. Repeatedly. In a surprisingly touching way, Hesher's closest relationship is with Madeleine, TJ's grandmother, played by Piper Laurie. There are a couple of really cute scenes between those two actors that really help you to go with the title character's dubious methods.
Rainn Wilson has less to do with Hesher as TJ's father, but he gives his second stellar performance on the trot. Once again in serious mode after Super, he plays TJ's father Paul in a way that advances his fledgling portfolio as a formidable dramatic actor. The other disparate link is Natalie Portman's character, Nicole. If anyone else is feeling Portman-fatigue at this point in 2011, this one's not going to help one bit. Still, it's a better role than she's had in any of her other non-Black Swan projects this year.
Hesher is, as yet, unscheduled for a UK release- I will post again when I know more.
I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.