Secret Headquarters Skips Theatrical for Paramount+

Walker Scobell as Charlie and Owen Wilson Jack in Secret Headquarters from Paramount Pictures. Photo credit: Hopper Stone/Paramount Pictures.

Secret Headquarters, the new superhero film starring Owen Wilson, skips its theatrical release for a Paramount+ debut.

Please make sure to watch until the very end of the credits. Speaking of credits, this is another film where all of the musicians get listed in the credits.

Secret Headquarters
L-R: Keith L. Williams as Berger, Walker Scobell as Charlie, Kezii Curtis as Big Mac, Momona Tamada as Maya, and Abby James Witherspoon as Lizzie in Secret Headquarters from Paramount Pictures. Photo credit: Hopper Stone/Paramount Pictures.

I can partly understand why the studio switched to a streaming release. The film is solid enough to be a winner at home. However, it’s not a proven IP to be a box office winner. Of course, you never know. We’re at this slowdown in August where studios decide to wait until after Labor Day. It’s quite possible that this could prove to be a mistake on Paramount’s part.

This is a film that takes a different approach than the majority of superhero movies. What if your father was a superhero? What if you don’t know that your father is The Guard (Owen Wilson)? This is the bouncing off point that takes us into a larger universe where arms dealer Ansel Argon (Michael Peña) and Captain Sean Irons (Jesse Wiliams) want to have The Guard’s power source. You can’t help but feel bad for Charlie Kincaid (Walker Scobell). He had to watch his parents’ marriage fall apart because Jack (Owen Wilson) was always attending I.T. conferences. The disappointment shows when Charlie goes to his dad’s, knowing that he could leave at any minute. He does…and then when Charlie discovers the downstairs lair, he still thinks that his dad does I.T. work for The Guard.

To nobody’s surprise, Jack leaves and Charlie calls Berger (Keith L. Williams) so that they can have a “rager.” Berger brings over two of their friends, Lizzie (Abby James Witherspoon) and just-back-in-town Maya (Momona Tamada). This is when they discover the lair full of weapons, etc. They have some fun with the secret headquarters until both Argon, Irons, and their evil mercenaries break in and they have to defend themselves. In watching the kids, you’d have never known that they didn’t know each other before and are working together for the first time. As a side note, Abby is the niece of Reese Witherspoon.

Charlie’s entire relationship with his father has been a lie. Now that Charlie finally knows the truth about his father being the chosen one, they’re able to connect with each other. It doesn’t change the fact that Jack should have been a better father. When you read so many comic books and watch movies, one can understand why their relationship is in need of repair. Jack could be looking at it as wanting to protect his family. How many times does Mary Jane Watson or Lois Lane end up in a state of distress? But at the end of the day, Jack realizes he should never have closed Charlie out from the truth. It brings them closer, for the better.

There’s an element of humor here that we don’t necessarily see in the Marvel films and definitely not in the DC movies. Would Tony Stark ever carry the Iron Man suit in a fanny pack? Probably not but it’s so practical. How many fights does a villain need to take a timeout because they are too hot? What about a Volkswagen-turned-G-mobile? Would any other superheroes use a VW bus as their mode of transit?

Much like The Adam Project, this is a film that you could have seen Steven Spielberg directing and releasing through Amblin. Even though the broken family trope comes from Spielberg’s own experiences, it’s a trope that we generally identify with his films. If you can let me type selfishly for a moment, I do wish that I could have experience both films in theaters. There’s something about these journeys that audiences like to watch on the screen. Even as an aspiring filmmaker, I’m always trying to come up with film ideas that I could have imagined watching in theaters as a kid. You have Jurassic Park, especially, to thank for that.

It isn’t lost on me, either, that Walker Scobell is also in this film. He is as much of a lead as Owen Wilson. In fact, I would argue that Walker should have first billing in the movie. Given what we see from the actor’s performance in this film, The Adam Project was not a fluke. He may just be a kid but he’s going to have a nice career should he choose to continue in the business.

Filmmakers did a makeover on the mostly vacant Gwinnett Place Mall in Duluth, Georgia. The mall played home to the fictional mall during season 3 of Stranger Things. Here, the food court plays home to the secret headquarters itself. Other areas in the mall get redesigned to play home to the Moon Dance and the final showdown.

While the theatrical release got canceled, Secret Headquarters provides audiences with a fun superhero movie for the whole family.

DIRECTORS: Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman
SCREENWRITERS: Christopher Yost, Josh Koenigsberg & Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman
CAST: Owen Wilson, Walker Scobell, Jesse Williams, Keith L. Williams, Momona Tamada, and Michael Peña, Abby James Witherspoon, Kezii Curtis, Jessie Mueller

Paramount+ launches Secret Headquarters on August 12, 2022. Grade: 4/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.