Remember the amateur vigilantes from the beginning of The Dark Knight? Those hapless guys, without a budget who put on some football pads and consider themselves bulletproof? Defendor basically takes one of them and puts him at the center of this movie which is starring Woody Harrelson as Defendor, yes with an “o” and he does get upset when you say it wrong, and is presented by the trailer as a spoof of superhero movies which ultimately is not the case. I’m sure that this will generate a sense of disappointment with people as they would expect a movie like “Superhero Movie” and actually get a comedy mixed with drama. Well at least Defendor has a heart instead of fart jokes.
Defendor is the alter ego of Arthur Poppington. A simple and slow construction worker who in the night time is searching for the evil Captain Industry. While a joke to everybody who he runs into he takes his task seriously. He has modeled himself unofficially after Batman including a rasp voice when in costume and several home made crime fighting gadgets like a jar full of angry wasps, lime juice and marbles. One night he “saves” a prostitute during her work from a crooked cop. He then gets taken to jail where they do not take him seriously and quickly released. When having another run in with the cop he gets beaten up and the whore who was close by takes him home and befriends him. And it will only cost him $ 40 a day. She sells him information on who this Captain Industry is and lives with him in his “secret lair”.
Woody Harrelson gives another good turn as the titular hero. He shines in the role, especially in the scenes with Sandra Oh who analyzes him because the judge wants to know who he’s actually dealing with. The way that Harrelson acts when having his character recollect his actions and trying to judge them himself whether they were right or wrong are truly great. The character of Arthur is explained on how he became this way and basically is Forrest Gump in tights. By giving him this back-story its easy to care for Arthur and to feel sorry for him when people take advantage of him. This is what elevates the movie from just being the spoof as it was presented in the trailer. While the movie is very funny and made me laugh out loud a couple of times its dramatic touches make it a stronger film.
The movie is not so much about Defendor, but more on how Defendor has an influence on other people, like prostitute Kat (Kat Dennings) for instance. This is as much her movie as it is Arthur’s. But it’s probably fair to say that in real life someone like Arthur was already committed as he really is still a child in a man’s body.
The only lacking part of the movie was the ending which didn’t have the emotional impact the director probably wanted it to have. I think that with a different and more graphic approach it could have been a lot better.
Defendor is a funny comedy which is actually in possession of a soul due to the way the main character has been created by the writer and the actor. In the end you’ll care for Defendor and you don’t want him to get hurt. Can you say that about so many other characters starring in comedies. Most of the time them getting hurt is the comedy.