Released 23rd June
Seen 15th December
Directed by Colin Trevorrow
Written by Greg Hurwitz
Produced by 1978 Films, Imagenation Abu Dhabi FZ, Likely Story, Parkes+MacDonald Image Nation, Playtone, Route One Entertainment
Starring Naomi Watts, Jaeden Lieberher, Jacob Tremblay & Sarah Silverman
The Book Of Henry is proof that you don’t need to be a good writer in order to get a script turned into a movie. You don’t need to be a good director in order to get your film made. You don’t even need to be a good person in order to take part in the creation of a piece of publically consumable art. No, The Book Of Henry proves that all you need is to be cliche and awful and you too can make a movie. You too can make a movie about an 11-year-old supergenius who does his families taxes and trades on the stock market until one day his headaches turn into tumours and his dying wish is that his mother assassinates the child abuser who lives next door. I DID NOT MAKE A SINGLE SYLLABLE OF THAT UP!
Henry (Played by Jaeden Lieberher) is the 12-year-old child who literally handles all the financials, tells his mother no to swear in front of his younger brother and literally buys his mother a car with money he made off the stock market. We didn’t accept this back in the 90’s when Macauley Culkin was playing Richie Rich and goddamn it I’m not accepting this now, it’s a bad character that was designed by a bad writer. It’s a Mary Sue character who is designed to be so perfect that everyone loves them. He’s a super smart kid who builds inventions but he also never get’s picked on and everyone wonders where he is when he misses school for the day. He is also freaking omniscient because… oh, let’s just say that if you record a tape for someone where you predict their response well enough that you can say on the recorded tape “Your other left”, you are not a well-written character. It sucks because Jaeden is a good actor, he played Bill in It and he was freaking incredible there but this character is annoying as hell.
His mother is not much better, which is a shame because she’s played by Naomi Watts who does pull some good moments out of the cesspool of suck that she’s been handed with this part. Same with Sarah Silverman who plays the mother’s best friend, she manages to find some charm out of her character but her character is also meaningless. She’s not even in the final third of the film, she’s there to be cool and to call Henry “Hank” because a drunken woman being too drunk to remember a five letter name is hilarious. Then there’s the other son played by Jacob Tremblay who, AGAIN, is a good actor and can do good things (I may not have liked Wonder but he was good in it!) but here he’s given nothing to work with that lets him shine.
The story of this movie is all over the place. Is it about a supergenius battling cancer? About a mother handling the loss of her son? A movie about someone assassinating a vile child molester? It’s all those things and so much less, because none of those stories works. The story about the cancer is literally the first half hour, it’s in and out and we barely have any time to give a crap. The mother handling the loss is 15 minutes tops and the assassination is just bad. It’s all bad, oh my god how is this movie so bad?
Its visual style is bland and boring and basic. There are ways they might’ve been able to use interesting shots and style choices to make this more engaging but it’s not, it’s basic shots that look like they were directed by a pretentious art school student who wanted you to experience the emotion the actors were putting on screen… except, like all pretentious art school students, forgot to actually create emotion in the script for the actors to work with.
I spent so much time watching this movie screaming “I WANT TO PUNCH THE MOVIE” because it’s so saccharine and so pathetic that I just did not care. It was poorly conceived and nothing more than a horrific fan fiction about a genius child that got a budget. This movie is bad and it should feel bad and the only saving grace is that they had a good casting agent. That’s all it has, a good cast with nothing of value to work with.