2009 was a good year for Woody Harrelson. Zombieland was popular with critics and audiences. A sequel for it is already in the works. He received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor for his role in The Messenger. While 2012 was not well liked by many people, it still made close to $200 million at the box office.
Harrelson’s fourth movie of 2009 was a little indy flick called Defendor that packs a pretty powerful punch.
By day, Arthur Poppington (Harrelson) is a flag person for the Public Works Department. By night, he THINKS he’s a superhero called Defendor. Don’t call him Defender!!! Arthur doesn’t like it when people do that.
With a huge D (made out of duct tape) on his chest, armed with his trusty marbles, a jar of angry wasps and a nasty trench club that his grandfather used against the Germans in “The Big War”, Defendor goes out at night to protect the innocent from the evil.
Defendor is on a mission to serve justice to his number one enemy, Captain Industry, the city’s worst drug dealer. While in pursuit of this horrible scoundrel, Arthur becomes friends with a young prostitute named Kat (Kat Dennings, Nic and Norah’s Infinite Playlist) and crosses paths with a dirty cop named Dooney (Elias Koteas, Shutter Island)
Trying to help Arthur realize he is just a regular guy with a HUGE imagination is his good friend Paul (Michael Kelly, Changeling) and Dr. Ellen Park (Sandra Oh, TV’s Grey’s Anatomy).
In his directorial debut, actor Peter Stebbings, who also wrote Defendor‘s screenplay, does a masterful job of creating a story and a character that draws in the viewer. Arthur Poppington is a very good-hearted person that you don’t want to see get hurt.
Defendor, whose surveillance equipment (early model VCR and VHS tapes) would have been high-tech if it was the 1980’s, is not the most imposing superhero, but he does have some funny one-liners. “Look out, termites. It’s squishing time!” Top that, Batman!!!
Of course, Arthur/Defendor would not be as entertaining if it was not for the excellent acting of Woody Harrelson. He is no stranger to creating lovable, but dopey characters. Harrelson became a superstar thanks to his role as Woody, a nitwit bartender, on the hit TV sitcom Cheers.
Kat Dennings is satisfactory, but far from spectacular as a junkie streetwalker. Kat, the hooker, has her own deep problems, but Dennings performance does not connect with the viewer. If you have Kat, the character, as a friend, who needs enemies, as she repeatedly gets Arthur into very dangerous situations.
Elias Koteas is perfectly slimy as the crooked cop. Dooney hides behind his badge, while trying to take advantage of anybody or any situation in hopes of having a big payday.
Defendor is not all laughs and gags. Stebbings injects drama at various points throughout the film, such as Arthur’s difficult childhood and an unexpected ending, that gives a nice balance to the picture.
If you’re in need of entertainment and you don’t know where to turn, look for Defendor, he won’t let you down! I promise it!
Defendor is currently available on DVD.