We Can Be Heroes (2020)

When Robert Rodriguez is in kids movie mode, he tends to create some of the most syrupy sweet, loud, tepid movies for his intended audience that though they have a lot of the good intention behind them are pretty much destroyed by the climax. That’s the case with “We Can Be Heroes,” a movie so derivative and tired that it destroys a lot of the charming characters and conflicts in the process.

Set in a not so distant future, the world is protected by a group of superheroes. When they’re kidnapped by a swarm of invading aliens, their kids are taken in to custody for their protection by top secret organization “Heroics.” But when Missy, the daughter of hero and team leader Marcus Moreno (Pedro Pascal), decides to break out with the group, they prepare to take on the aliens and save their parents in the process, while also working to prevent a full on invasion.

“We Can Be Heroes” is pretty much like every other Robert Rodriguez kids movie. It’s loud, derivative, sometimes bizarre, and filled to the brim with characters (Rodriguez’s biggest flaws as a writer). He fills his movie with so many characters that no one ever really garners enough focus or grabs too much exposition. There are so many ideas, protagonists, and sub-plots fighting to rise to the surface that substance, and heart are nowhere to be found. I wanted to know so much more about characters like Ojo, the dynamic of Forward and Rewind, and the relationship between Miracle Guy and his son Wheels. The latter seemed especially ripe for considerable dramatic tension.

We’re also left with a lot of questions rather than taking away an enriching experience. For example, Sharkboy and Lavagirl (Taylor Dooley returns sans Taylor Lautner) appear since their daughter “Guppy” is now an aspiring superheroine. If Sharkboy and Lavagirl were figments of imaginations in their original movie, why are they alive here? What happened to Max? What exactly were Marcus Moreno’s powers? If Grandma Moreno could easily break in, why didn’t she break the superheroes out? Was Grandma Moreno a superhero, or a superhero trainer? Did the adult superheroes know about the ultimate alien plot or not? “We Can Be Heroes” might just satisfy the 5-10 age group, but there are just so much better movies of substance out there of this ilk like “Sky High,” “The Incredibles,” or “Big Hero Six.”

Now Streaming on Netflix.