Jon is playing in the neighborhood with his friends, playing games of war, crime and action where they jostle over who gets to be the villain and the hero. But his little brother is tagging along, annoying him and incurring the relentless teasing of his friends.
But when little brother is finally run off and then confronts his bully, it leads to a dangerous situation — one where Jon finally realizes what it means to be heroic.
An affectionate throwback to 80s films like Stand By Me, The Sandlot and The Goonies, Drew and Nate Garcia’s short mashes together action, comedy and the well-placed moment of drama that explores the bonds between brothers and just what it means to be a hero.
The moments of comedy come from kids’ approximation of the action scenes they’re enacting with their play, whether it’s soldiers advancing in the jungle of wartime or Nazis… in a car race in the desert.
Though these scenes are shot with adult actors with the finesse and dynamism of a Hollywood action blockbuster, they’re full of whimsical gestures and touches and played in the performance like children, with goofy dialogue and the direct, unfettered emotional quality of young kids. It’s undeniably fun, but also a showcase for terrific craftsmanship, aided also by a fully conceived orchestral score that recalls the drama of John Williams and the plaintiveness of James Horner.
These action sequences punctuate the overall story of the brothers, with the little brother being pushed away by the big brother he admires and just wants to play with. It’s a classic conflict, recognizable to anyone who’s ever had a younger sibling, and though there are no surprises in terms of the emotional arc, it still achieves a heartwarming quality when Jon steps up to save his brother.
In “Hero,” Jon discovers that the essence of being one isn’t being fearless or macho. Instead, heroism involves both heart and action: caring enough to endure pain and hardship to help another person or cause. Being a hero is being there when you’re needed the most, looking outside for your own self-interest and struggling or working on behalf for who or what you love — for Jon, and for many others, that means family.