The culture-deadening Marvel Cinematic Universe has already shanghaied the world into giving over hearts, minds, and wallets, so — as Tina Turner could’ve sung about Nick Love’s superpowered-loser indie — we don’t need another hero.
From a tourist’s-eye view of post-Katrina New Orleans that pretends to be soulfully lived-in, American Hero offers us womanizing party hound Melvin (Stephen Dorff) as he squanders both his life and his gift of telekinesis, itself quite inexplicable; there’s no backstory to call this an origin tale. In fact, take away the decently rendered special effects and it’s a flaccid bromantic comedy in which wheelchair-ridden Iraq vet Lucille (Eddie Griffin, better than the movie deserves) tries to get Melvin to stay clean whenever he himself isn’t hypocritically boozing it up. Take away Lucille and it’s a self-parodic Lifetime melodrama about a perennial fuck-up trying to overcome restraining orders and see his young son again.
The filmmakers blend tones like a child mixing fountain drinks into one unidentifiable flavor. The p.o.v. comes from a “documentary crew” chronicling Melvin’s misadventures — a lazy and impossible device that gets forgotten about whenever someone isn’t directly addressing the camera.
The potentially intriguing thread is a guy who can’t handle his superhuman abilities and suppresses them through substance abuse, but there isn’t any depth to the characters or story, which is largely padded with scenes of Melvin getting wasted.
Written and directed by Nick Love
Screen Media Films
Opens December 11, Village East Cinema