2015’s Jurassic World destroyed box office records – something no one quite saw coming. It’s not even insulting to the fact to it’s big-budgeted, post-production, tattered, derivative nature though. It’s insulting because the man who made it is Colin Trevorrow, and that after that mess he makes an equally worse mess of a movie that’s completely irresponsible and out of right mind that it’s kinda funny. It shouldn’t be.
Henry, played by Jaeden Lieberher, is a special gifted child with heightened intelligence. The kid can quintessentially help run the family, caring for his brother and mother and his neighbour, Christina, who Henry has grown fond of. Through the window sills, acts of horror occur. The audience doesn’t get to see it, but things become clearer sooner than later. To ensure Christina’s safety from her stepfather, Henry constructs an elaborate plan to eliminate the threat in which Henry’s mother (Naomi Watts) will have to help him rescue Christina from her abusive stepfather. This plan comes complete with a page in all caps that reads, “THERE IS NO OTHER WAY TO SAVE CHRISTINA.”
The Book of Henry is hard to grasp as an an idea and also as a piece of entertainment. Tonally, it’s a mess from start to finish. One moment you have a mellow piano piece lining a scene, or something light-toned, then the next thing you know, Henry is witnessing something unspeakable next door. It doesn’t mesh in any way and leaves it up to you to accept the absurdity put to screen. How anyone could look at this indecisive agglomeration of a movie with clearance is beyond me. To add even more to the mix, the damn thing strives for emotional resonance which is equal parts Trevorrow and writer Gregg Hurwitz’ fault. Honestly, what the hell was Hurwitz on while making this? It’s indescribable and needs to be seen to be believed. I’ve seen a lot of films in my life, but The Book of Henry is one that will amaze me with this kooky attempt at fitting into any genre it feels the need to tackle.
For all it’s cringe, the movie still looks like a movie and the performances are alright. It’s safe to say probably no one wanted to be here (can you believe Jacob Tremblay is already signing up for paycheck gigs), the dialogue is the equivalent of a soggy, day-old sloppy joe. Watts and the rest of the cast try to save it, but their efforts aren’t efficacious to provoke anything the film feels in the long run.
Integral to any drama/family film is the likes to convey its identity – The Book of Henry hilariously does none of that. This movie is a train wreck in nearly every department. I can’t see anyone in my right mind getting work of this feebleminded crap. My mind is blown. Take that as you will.