• Nate Adams

'Secret Headquarters' review: Family superhero adventure finds the charm


Courtesy of Paramount+

 

Hoping to cash in on the never-ending boom of superhero flicks, Paramount Pictures originally intended for theatrical release now destined-for-streaming family adventure “Secret Headquarters” isn’t the miserable excursion you’d expect. The original screenplay from writer Christopher Yost, alongside co-writers/directors Josh Koenigsberh and Ariel Schulman has plenty of charm and enough family-friendly action to help solidify it as a primary choice among kiddos and the parents might find themselves engaged with the material. It’s a solid alternative to the Marvel Cinematic Universe where, instead of adults headlining the action, a group of middle schoolers get to save the day alongside the big names. Major “Sky High” energy here. 


Owen Wilson leads the charge as Jack Kincaid, aka “The Guard” an Iron-Man wannabe chosen by an unidentified alien organism to protect earth. Flash forward ten years, and Jack is divorced and estranged from his younger son, Charlie (Walker Scobell - “The Adam Project”) who doesn’t understand why dad is always busy with work. Charlie deals with all the usual teenage, pubicisent issues: girls, chemistry tests, and baseball, but he’s also The Guard’s biggest fan and doesn’t know his father is the one wearing the suit. 


That is until he and a group of friends accidently discover his secret headquarters buried underneath the house and begin harnessing the alien technology for themselves: I.e: pitching a super-sonic fastball, scoring the answers on a quiz, and teleportation. It’s not long before a squad of baddies come sniffing around (headed by a smarmy tech mogul played by Micheal Pena) hoping to mine the technology for themselves, forcing Charlie and his squad into a battle of wits that, by law, must climax inside a school gymnasium. 


The cast is rounded out by Momona Tamada, Abby James Witherspoon, Keith L Williams and Kezzi Curtis, each having a blast next to Scobell, Wilson and Pena. “Secret Headquarters” certainly won’t win any style points for creativity, but it yarks back to the “Catch That Kid” and “Clockstoppers” days of young-adult programming where the stakes are high enough to make it interesting and the comedy aspect exceeds expectations (the use of “dingus” made me wince). I’m not sure why Paramount pivoted this from a planned big-screen release (which itself is never a great sign) because “Secret Headquarters” has better traits and qualities than some movies currently in release. It knows exactly what it wants to be and never compromises for cheap laughs and potty humor. I hope the secret gets out. 


Grade: B 


SECRET HEADQUARTERS debuts on Paramount+ Friday, August 12th.