Secret Headquarters review – an uninspired superhero movie

August 13, 2022
Nicole Ackman 0
Film Reviews, Paramount+, Streaming Service
2

Summary

When Charlie finds his largely absent dad’s secret headquarters under his house, he discovers that Jack is actually a superhero. Despite Owen and Scobell’s charm, the film is boring and derivative.

Loading JustWatch data...
2

Summary

When Charlie finds his largely absent dad’s secret headquarters under his house, he discovers that Jack is actually a superhero. Despite Owen and Scobell’s charm, the film is boring and derivative.

This review of Paramount+ film Secret Headquarters does not contain spoilers.

Walker Scobell is having a year. While neither Netflix’s The Adam Project nor Paramount+’s Secret Headquarters were hit films, they proved that he’s the king of stories about young boys with dysfunctional relationships with their dads. Plus, he’s currently on set filming for the Percy Jackson series in which he’ll be playing the titular character – a role nearly guaranteed to shoot him to fame over the course of the series’s several planned seasons.

It’s good that Scobell has an upcoming project that’s likely to be a success because Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman’s Secret Headquarters certainly isn’t. This superhero film for children is uninspired to the point of being boring, making viewers long for older films like Spy Kids and Shark Boy and Lava Girl whose popularity this film is clearly trying to recapture. Written by Schulman, Christopher L. Yost, and Josh Koenigsberg, the script clearly could have used a few more drafts.

Charlie (Scobell) seems like a normal kid: he’s trying to win at his baseball games and is annoyed at how absent his father (Owen Wilson) is, following his parents’ divorce. His mother (Jessie Mueller, who Broadway fans will be thrilled to see) is insistent that his dad not cancel this weekend’s visit, as he has several prior. Jack takes Charlie back to his place for the weekend, telling him that they can go camping like old times soon and insisting he’s just been busy at his IT job.

However, Jack receives a work call about an emergency and tells Charlie to get his mom to come pick him up. Instead, Charlie invites over his best friend Berger (Keith L. Williams) and the girls that they have crushes on, Maya (Momona Tamada) and Lizzie (Abby James Witherspoon, the niece of the more famous Witherspoon). They soon discover the secret headquarters that the film is named for underneath his dad’s home.

The next section of the film sees the kids playing with the Guard’s superhero gadgets, which are uninventive. Jack is actually not an IT guy at all, but a superhero whose powers derive from an alien visit ten years before. His tech suit, complete with projections inside of his helmet, is a clear rip-off of Iron Man. This part should be fun, but the film isn’t camp enough to embrace its premise.

Trouble finds the kids when villain Ansel Argon (Michael Peña) shows up to the Guard’s headquarters, intent on stealing his power source. Peña is as wasted as he repeatedly has been in films lately, though he and Owens do get the chance to exchange some snappy dialogue.

“We’re not kids, we’re young adults,” the young protagonists insist at one point in the movie. However, it seems like kids are the only ones likely to enjoy Secret Headquarters, especially in a time when adults have so many superhero films to choose from.

What did you think of the Paramount+ film Secret Headquarters? Comment below.

You can watch Secret Headquarters with a Paramount+ subscription.