I am a huge fan of director Colin Trevorrow’s 2012 indie sci-fi comedy, “Safety Not Guaranteed”. Hollywood big shots took notice too, as the filmmaker landed “Jurassic World” and will be bringing us “Star Wars: Episode IX” in 2019. Needless-to-say, I was looking forward to seeing Trevorrow’s dramatic-thriller “The Book of Henry”.
One of the interesting things about “The Book of Henry” is that mid-way through the film there is a twist that I honestly didn’t see coming. I had seen the film’s trailer before but wasn’t sure if this twist was given away. I decided to go back and check out the trailer again before reviewing the film, as I didn’t want to spoil any important elements. The trailer is cut in a way that alludes to the twist without throwing it in your face. Regardless, I don’t want to be the one to ruin it for you, so I am going to keep this review pretty short
Set in a beautiful small suburban town, single mother Susan Carpenter (Naomi Watts) spends her days working as a waitress with her best friend (Sarah Silverman) and raising her sons Henry (Jaeden Lieberher) and his younger brother Peter (Jacob Tremblay). Henry is an 11-year-old genius, who is looked-up-to by Peter and relied upon by his mother. While Susan sits in front of the television playing video games, Henry handles all the family’s financial issues. He not only makes sure the bills are paid but he takes care of the stock investments, in hopes that his mom will stay home and finish writing her book. The family seems like a pretty happy one, despite Henry being more responsible than Susan. She can’t even make a decision about bank deposits without discussing it with her 11-year-old first.
The first hour or so of “The Book of Henry” is really good and the cast is fantastic. Unfortunately, the film began to lose me with its dark turn, involving sexual abuse of a child and a plotted revenge scheme. That isn’t even the twist that I mentioned before. I found myself increasingly frustrated at the story began to go in the most ridiculous direction. Trevorrow is a gifted filmmaker but the screenplay by Gregg Hurwitz definitely needed some work. “The Book of Henry” isn’t terrible. As I said before, I liked quite a bit of the first half, but I can’t recommend you go out and pay good money to see half-a-good movie. This might be worth checking out when it’s on Netflix or cable.
By: Marc Ferman