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The Independent Critic

Christopher Gorham, Susan Misner, Ben Hyland, Pamela Shaw, Arthur J. Nascarella
Darin Beckstead
93 Mins.

 "Somebody's Hero" Review 
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Dennis Sullivan (Christopher Gorham) is an ordinary guy. Sometimes, ordinary guys do extraordinary things.

An Official Selection of the 2011 Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis, Somebody's Hero is the kind of film that is wildly popular at the Heartland Film Festival that celebrates inspiring films that promote the positives in life. The theme of Somebody's Hero is simple - Everybody is somebody's hero. It's the way that writer/director Darin Beckstead gets us through this journey that makes Somebody's Hero such a rewarding experience. While the themes are different, Somebody's Different often feels like another popular Heartland film that has found tremendous success on the home video market (especially in the faith community), The Ultimate Gift or, perhaps, even that wonderful Christmas classic Miracle on 34th Street.

Somebody's Hero
isn't a Christmas film nor is it even a faith-based film, but it is a decidedly retro film with such vibrant streaks of warmth and goodness that it may very well remind you of films from years gone by.

In case you're wondering, that's a compliment.

Dennis is a lonely accountant who gets assigned to the account of  a wealthy young widow, Katie (Susan Misner), and her son, Jake (Benjamin Hyland). While Katie's struggling to move on, Jake has escaped into the world of "Man America," a popular superhero and, quite obviously, an imaginary replacement for his father. Hoping to find a way to reach Jake, Dennis is at a local costume shop trying on a Man America superhero outfit when he inadvertently becomes a real life superhero during a robbery that is caught on the security cameras. The video of Dennis's semi-awkward yet heroic efforts finds its way to the public and, of course, it goes viral and suddenly the whole world wants to know "Who is this Man America?"

What starts out beautifully runs into its fair share of complications, as Dennis must finally come to terms with and acknowledge who he is behind the mask.

Sound simple? It is.

Somebody's Hero is a simple and straightforward film about hope, family, perserverance and authenticity, a film that drives home the messages that everybody is somebody's superhero and, deep down, we all have a superhero inside us.

Christopher Gorham (Henry Grubstick in Ugly Betty) is well cast as Dennis, deftly handling the film's physical comedy, witty one-liners and genuinely heartwarming moments. Gorham's affection for young Jake is believable, as is his inner turmoil as his love Katie and Jake becomes clouded by the increasing number of lies necessary to carry on the superhero facade.

Susan Misner (Chicago) gives Somebody's Hero a good amount of its emotional resonance, heartbreakingly embodying a grieving widow without ever disrupting the film's hopeful and generally upbeat tone. It's a challenge to give a richly authentic performance without going into unnecessary histrionics, but Misner's performance hits all the right notes.

Relative newcomer Benjamin Hyland, whom you might remember from his performance as Conor at the age of 5 in the box-office hit Marley & Me, is also terrific as young Jake. The supporting cast is equally strong with fine performances turned in by Pamela Shaw as Dennis's boss and Arthur J. Nascarella as Donald Delansky among others.

D.P. Christopher Walters' lensing offers the film a layer of humanity and avoiding the recent Hollywood trend towards more cartoonish imagery, while the original music from Assaf Spector and Denny Schneidemesser complements the film's retro vibe to perfection. Kudos as well for the production design work of Kristen Adams.

With his first feature film, writer/director Darin Beckstead has created a genuinely feel good and inspiring film that avoids special effects in favor of sincerity and hyped up action in favor of really super heroics. Winner of Best Feature at the 2011 Coney Island Film Festival and having already played at the Prescott and Newport Beach Film Festivals, Somebody's Hero will be screened four times during the Heartland Film Festival, a fantastic opportunity for your entire family to catch a film that will entertain the entire family. Screening times for the 2011 Heartland Film Festival include:

  • Saturday, Oct. 15 @ 12:45 PM at AMC Showplace 17
  • Tuesday, October 18 @ 5:30 PM at AMC Showplace 17
  • Wednesday, October 19 @ 5:30 PM at AMC Castleton
  • Saturday, October 22 @ 10:15 AM at AMC Showplace 17
For ticket information, visit the Heartland Film Festival website. For more information on the film, visit the Somebody's Hero website.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic