We Can Be Heroes (2020) ☆☆☆(3/4): They are surely heroes

Netflix film “We Can Be Heroes”, which was released on this Christmas, often tickled and entertained me more than I expected. While this is basically a kiddie version of “The Avengers” (2012), it did a better job of juggling various superhero characters, and I enjoyed its colorfully zany moments while also appreciating its wholesome messages for its young audiences.

The main center of the story is a young girl named Missy Moreno (YaYa Gosselin), and the early part of the movie briskly establishes how her daily life is suddenly turned upside down on one day. Although she is just plain and ordinary, her father Marcus (Pedro Pascal) was once one of famous superheroes operating around the world, and he actually quit his superhero career after his wife’s death for taking care of their daughter more. Alas, when he and Missy are starting their another usual morning, it turns out that the Earth is about to be invaded by a bunch of mysterious aliens from the outer space, and, not so surprisingly, Marcus is soon brought back in action even though that will break his personal promise with Missy.

In the meantime, the agency supervising Marcus and other superheroes decides to have the children of its superheroes under maximum protection just in case, so Missy is soon stuck with a number of other kids in a big safe room without any information on when they can be released. All of them except Missy have each own superpower to demonstrate, and Missy naturally cannot help but feel like an oddball in the group as her new friends show off their superpower one by one.

Anyway, their situation becomes quite more serious than expected when their superhero parents are quickly defeated and then captured by those aliens, who announce that they are going to take over the Earth only after 3 hours. While shocked to see what has just happened to her father and other superheroes, Missy comes to realize that she and other kids in the room must get out of the room as soon as possible, and she finds herself becoming an unlikely leader for them as predicted by one picture drawn by Ojo (Hala Finley), a mute girl who can draw the pictures of whatever will soon happen.

Once it turns out that their current staying place is not safe at all, Missy and her new friends work together for their joint escape, and director/co-producer/writer Robert Rodriguez, who also handled the music and cinematography of his movie, serves us a fun action sequence where Missy busily handles her new friends’ respective superpowers for thwarting many agents’ attempts to stop them. In case of a girl named A Capella (Lotus Blossom), she can levitate not only objects and people via the extremely low range of her voice (She also can go for extremely high pitches, of course), and there is a rather hilarious moment when Missy quickly thinks of how to use A Capella’s superpower against a bunch of agents surrounding them and other kids.

After successfully escaping from the agency and its director Miss Granada (Priyanka Chopra Jonas), Missy and her new friends luckily arrive at the residence of her grandmother Anita (Adriana Barraza), who once taught and trained her son and other superheroes many years ago. Although the remaining time is pretty short to say the least and Miss Granada and her agents are already chasing after them, Missy and her new friends go through your average training scene for less than 10 minutes, and she also comes to find more confidence as planning how to defeat those aliens and then save her father and other superheroes.

It is not much a spoiler to tell you that Missy and her new friends eventually succeed in getting into the mothership of those aliens, but Rodriguez’s screenplay goes further for more goofiness while throwing some nice surprises into the story. For example, the interior of the alien mothership is so colorful and outrageous that you will not be surprised by what is revealed later around the end of the movie, and I rolled my eyes a bit as watching a silly moment from one certain alien which seems to be taking care of some biological matter in the middle of a bush.

Above all, the movie is constantly buoyed by its likable young characters, each of whom is imbued with distinctive personality besides often demonstrating each own superpower as demanded. While the bickering between twin siblings Rewind (Isaiah Russell-Bailey) and Fast Forward (Akira Akbar) is a constant source of laugh, I especially like a kid named Slo-mo (Dylan Henry Lau), and I could not help but amused by how his rather problematic superpower is unexpectedly utilized in the middle of the expected climax sequence.

While YaYa Gosselin and the other young cast members including Andy Walken, Andrew Diaz, Vivien Blair, and Nathan Blair carry the story well together as required, several adult cast members in the film have a little fun around them without overshadowing them at all. Looking a lot more restrained compared to his hammy acting in “Wonder Woman 1984” (2020), Pedro Pascal brings some gravitas to the movie, and Boyd Holbrook, Christopher McDonald, Christian Slater, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, and Adriana Barraza willingly hurl themselves into their broad caricature roles, and Barraza certainly enjoys her every second as your typical no-nonsense mentor figure.

Overall, “We Can Be Heroes” accomplishes its mission as much as intended along with its young superheroes, and you will enjoy it like I did if you were entertained by “Spy Kids” (2001), which is also directed by Rodriguez, or “Dora and the Lost City of Gold” (2019). After all, it made me chuckle even when blatantly showing off a big red digital readout reaching to the zero hour, and I guess that is sort of an accomplishment.

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