The Book of Henry (2017)

<strong class="MovieTitle">The Book of Henry</strong> (2017)

(On Cable TV, March 2018) I approached The Book of Henry with overly lowered expectations—the critical drubbing of the film had led me to believe an unmitigated disaster, but the end result is merely dull and ludicrous. This being said, I admit to having watched the film in distracted circumstances (i.e.; reading news), meaning that if I had watched this in theatres with my undivided attention, chances are that I would have ended up hating the film with a passion. It really doesn’t start very well, as the film introduces wunderkind genius Henry and how he (at eleven) is the head of a household featuring a younger brother and a scattered mom. Henry is an engineering genius, an endless fount of trivia, an expert at theoretical psychology and a financial whiz. Nothing phases Henry except for a terminal cancer and the realization that the next-door neighbour is being abused by her step-father, an influential policeman. These things brought together logically (hmmm…) lead to Naomi Watts running around with a high-powered sniper rifle in the third act of the film. But there I go, making The Book of Henry more interesting than it is. Most movies ask for a bit of credulity in order to tell their stories, but The Book of Henry demands far too much credulity without even making cursory attempts at justifying it. The result thus becomes fit for laughter. Still, this isn’t even a bad film—it’s just a dumb one, executed with slick Hollywood professionalism but flawed at the onset. Hollywood has a lot of trouble dealing with smart characters, and super-precocious Henry is only the latest of them—at least the story has the sense to point out that Henry’s ultimately not infallible, but given that this comes in the final minutes of a film in which Henry is always right, it does feel like too little too late. It certainly doesn’t help disperse the overall atmosphere of The Book of Henry as a misguided idea that should not have been made. If industry rumors are correct, director Colin Trevorrow is already paying for it.

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