Miles Scott is easy to fall for. Endearingly good-natured and shy, the 5-year-old leukemia survivor got his strut on, as his somewhat amazed farmer dad puts it, one fall day in 2013 when the Make-A-Wish Foundation realized the boy's superhero dreams.
Decked out as the Caped Crusader's mini-me and riding shotgun in a Lamborghini "Batmobile," Miles was guided through a series of elaborately staged escapades that turned San Francisco into Gotham City. As he saved the populace from the Riddler and Penguin, he was cheered on by huge flash mobs and by an estimated 1 billion social media followers worldwide.
The cheering continues with "Batkid Begins," director Dana Nachman's celebratory if not especially searching look at the making of the event. Combining in-the-moment footage shot by John Crane with after-the-fact interviews, the film will restore one's faith in humanity, at least during its running time. As to truly exploring the phenomenon of a live-tweeted collective fiction, the documentary makes a couple of intriguing observations but doesn't look far beyond the metrics, content to exult in the wow factor of it all, which admittedly is considerable.
There are many heroes in the story, which ultimately involved San Francisco's mayor and police chief (a game actor, it turns out). Key among them is Eric Johnston, the former stuntman who played Batman to Miles' Batkid. Their interactions are terrifically sweet and moving.
Those scenes go a long way to offset repetitive stretches that feel like promotional videos for Make-A-Wish. So too does every shot of the adorable Miles, who had spent years in treatment, fighting for his life, when he donned the Batkid costume and accepted his new mission, unaware of its extraordinary breadth.
MPAA rating: PG for mild thematic material.
Running time: 1 hour, 27 minutes.