August 12, 2022 / Paramount+
Starring: Owen Wilson, Walker Scobell, Jesse Williams, Keith L. Williams
Directed By: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
Paramount Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer Films present the heartwarming and action-packed summer family film which stars, Owen Wilson, Walker Scobell (“The Adam Project”), Jesse Williams (“Take Me Out”), Keith L. Williams (“Good Boys”), Momona Tamada (“The Baby-Sitters Club”), Abby James Witherspoon (“Hot Pursuit”), Kezii Curtis (“Charm City Kings”) and Michael Peña (“NARCOS: Mexico”).
While hanging out after school, Charlie and his friends discover the headquarters of the world’s most powerful superhero hidden beneath his home. When villains attack, they must team up to defend the headquarters and save the world.
Written By Darren
Rating 3 out of 5
Secret Headquarters is a delightful film for younger viewers wanting the excitement of a superhero film without the darkness of a Marvel or DC film, once again showcasing the talent of Walker Scobel.
When it was announced that Secret Headquarters was being pulled from theatres and being sent straight to Paramount+, I was a little worried as that was not a sign of good faith in the film from the studio. On paper, it sounded like a fun family film with a solid cast, and despite the last minute shift to streaming, the film delivers exactly what I wanted from it. The film follows a young boy, Charlie, who while hanging out with his friends at his dad’s house, discovers a secret lair beneath the house belonging to the superhero known as Guardian. It becomes evident to Charlie that his dad’s secret identity is Guardian, but when villains attack the house to steal Guardian’s advanced technology, Charlie and his friends must defend the secret lair to save the world.
At its core, this film is a family film made to entertain the young ones while providing some action and mild laughs for the parents, making for a successful movie night for everyone. With the father-son relationship at the heart of the story, the film tries to evoke the early films of Steven Spielberg, but it never comes close to the mastery or emotional gravity of his family oriented films. It has the right intentions, but it never digs deep enough into the relationship between Charlie and his father, merely scratching the surface of the emotional subplot that could have been. Instead, the film focuses on the wonder of the teens finding alien technology and their use of it. We get a fun montage with the kids testing out the technology, breaking the rules and having fun, before having to use it to defend the secret lair from the villains. It’s a good mix of comedy and PG style action that is sure to delight younger audiences.
Though, the film’s biggest asset is Walker Scobell as Charlie. Fresh off his scene stealing turn in Netflix’s The Adam Project opposite Ryan Reynolds, Scobell proves himself not to be a one hit wonder, once again bringing that great charm and comedic timing to the role of Charlie. Immediately, Scobell lights up the screen and plays off his older co-stars like a seasoned pro, delivering some great laughs and moments of pure heart. Due to the simpler nature of this film, he does not deliver as spectacular of a performance as he did in The Adam Project, but there is no doubt that he is going to be one of the greatest young actors over the next few years.
The adult cast includes Owen Wilson, Michael Peña and Jesse Williams, and all of them are good. While he gets top billing, Wilson is actually absent for a good portion of the film, but while on screen he is truly enjoyable as Charlie’s dad trying to save the world and reconnect with his son. Wilson is not the actor I would automatically pick to be a superhero, but he is the perfect fit for the role as his character is a father first, which is exactly the type of role Wilson should be in right now. Plus, he and Scobell make a great on screen father-son duo. Peña is a lot of fun as the film’s villain, playing an over the top villain from a Saturday morning cartoon while still having some true moments of treachery that helps build the stakes for the film. And the Grey’s Anatomy fan in me enjoyed seeing Williams in the film, and while he is not given the best writing, he is a good fit for the role.
Rounding out the cast is Keith L. Williams, Abby James Witherspoon and Momona Tamada as Charlie’s friends, and each of them is bursting with energy that truly brings this film to life. Along with Scobell, the four young stars create a truly infectious rapor between themselves that elevates the film far beyond its simple premise, which is guaranteed to entertain audiences. The CGI is a little rough at times, but given the charisma of the cast, it's easy to forget the visual blunders because the film is just pure fun from start to finish. While the film never exceeds its simple premise and plays it fairly safe, Secret Headquarters benefits greatly from a solid cast that brings lots of energy, laughs and heart to this little film for the whole family to enjoy.