Despite receiving largely negative reviews, the Will Smith adventure-comedy Hancock opened very strongly at the U.S. box office, snapping up a highly impressive $66 million over the three-day July 4 weekend. The film has earned $107.6 million since its opening last Tuesday.
This the fifth film starring Smith to open in the number one slot on an Independence Day weekend. The others were the two Men in Black films, Independence Day, and Wild Wild West.
The audiences are right to like Smith’s film despite its extremely bizarre premise, lack of logic, and unpleasant characterization by Smith in the lead role. What the film has going for it are very good performances by Jason Bateman and Charlize Theron, plus a serious and positive portrayal of the importance of personal responsibility and individual moral accountability.
Thus even though the character Smith plays is quite unattractive throughout much of the film, the redemptive nature of his personal story and the positive values the film projects should enable it to continue to do well.
One idea the film expresses quite strongly is absolutely wrong, however. Bateman’s character is on a personal crusade to make big corporations more appealing to the public by enlisting the companies in a grand scheme to devote a certain portion of their revenues to "good works."
This idea rests on an entirely false notion which, unfortunately, all too many people believe: that businesses take resources away from society and should "give something back" in the form of public charity in order to compensate for their takings.
Nothing could be more false. Businesses contribute to the public good by giving the products and services people want. If a business is not doing some good, people won’t pay for their product or service. Resources sitting around on or in the earth or sea are worthless until somebody "exploits" them for our behefit.
Hence, the business of business really is business. And that’s what makes businesses good and should earn them the public’s appreciation. To ask for more is in fact to be truly greedy.
The really greedy people are those who call on businesses to divert their resources from goods the public wants toward those that self-appointed elite do-gooders think we ought to have.
That kind of greed for power is always bad. We should roundly condemn such arrogance, not praise it.