Bad guys do fin­ish last

The Province - - ENTERTAINMENT - — Chris Knight

It’s a nifty premise; in this age of su­per­hero movies and ac­tion fran­chises, why not a story about the bad guys’ lack­eys, flunkies and lieu­tenants? Why not Hench­men?

Granted, Min­ions al­ready has that cov­ered, but if you can make two live-ac­tion-but-com­puter-gen­er­ated Jun­gle Books — Dis­ney’s in 2016 and Net­flix’s Mowgli, avail­able Dec. 7 — then there should be room for an­other story about un­der­lings.

Trou­ble is, Min­ions wasn’t very good. And Hench­man only proves that the floor’s the limit.

Di­rected and co-writ­ten by an­i­ma­tor Adam Wood, and fea­tur­ing such they-should­know-bet­ter celebrity voices as Al­fred Molina and Nathan Fil­lion, Hench­men is the story of a 16-year-old or­phan named Lester (Thomas Mid­dled­itch), who longs to be a su­pervil­lain — and yet we’re sup­posed to root for him? His plan is to start as a hench­man and work his way up the cul­prit lad­der.

For­tu­nately for him there’s a union, a job fair and a whole evil city where vil­lains hang out and hire work­ers. Lester falls in with fel­low hench­man Hank and gets a job in the lo­cal mu­seum, where a still-work­ing ex­hibit ba­si­cally falls on his head and gives him mighty pow­ers.

Hank is voiced by James Mars­den, who can act. And yet his char­ac­ter can’t ; the last time I saw such a one-di­men­sional, poorly drawn an­i­mated fig­ure it was hawk­ing ce­real with a prize in the box. The only time Hank dis­plays any emo­tion is around mu­seum cu­ra­tor Jo­lene (Rosario Daw­son), and then it’s so in­tense it just comes off as creepy.

But wait; there’s less! Hench­man’s screen­play is chock full of burps, gags (as in re­flux, not hu­mour), pee jokes, poo jokes and the line: “That’s a lot of vomit.” And in a shock­ing lack of orig­i­nal­ity, the main vil­lain’s air­ship has a weak­ness that ap­pears to be a small ther­mal ex­haust port, right be­low the main port. But I guess theft is part of a vil­lain’s tool kit, and if there’s one thing Hench­man un­der­stands it’s how to be bad.


Hench­men is voiced by ac­tors who should know bet­ter than to sign up for this charm­less story about a boy who yearns to be a su­pervil­lain.

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