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From Jimmy Neutron to Hidden Figures to Amadeus, movie watchers love the genius character. The person with all the answers and can fix any problem. This idea is nothing new, so when I saw the trailers for The Book of Henry, I hoped this would be a fresh take on the story. Not only was I disappointed but it surprised me that anyone could consider this a film for kids.
Henry is not your average middle schooler. He is a child genius who can handle any obstacle. This includes taking care of his mother’s financials and handling all the families bills. When he begins to realize that his friend next door is getting abused by her father, he decides he will save her. Though after countless attempts to notify the authorities, due to the father’s involvement with the police no one will turn him in. As a result Henry realizes that the only way to fix this issue is to kill the father himself. He is not able to accomplish his goal because he dies from a terminal brain tumor. Now sick with grief, his mother decides to take this issue into her own hands.
If you felt the description to be confusing you are only experiencing the beginning of the issues associated with this film. The biggest thing I need to address is that this film is not for children. I only say this because I’m all of the trailers and advertising, they make it seem like this is a fun lighthearted kids film for all ages even with its pg-13 rating. Even most of the first third of this film has fun moments, it very quickly becomes dark, including content such as suicide, sexual abuse, murder, and mild language.
In addition to the content, the structure of the story was also confusing. At times I felt the characters actions did not seem realistic while the story was based in reality. For example the mother at times seemed to be a responsible parent who could take care of her kids and then she would play video games and get drunk. The cinematography was nice but relatively underwhelming with overused visuals used before in other movies that don’t say anything new. The acting was the only thing that stood out as good. Naomi Watts who played the mother and Jaeden Lieberher who played Henry clearly tried their absolute best with the content they were given. I really enjoyed their skill and felt if given the roles to worse actors this movie would have been far more painful. After seeing Jaeden in both this and St Vincent, I see a true potential and feel if given the right script he will blow people away.
Overall I don’t think The Book of Henry is worth seeing. From its overused characters and visuals as well as subject matter not fit for children. This was unfortunately a bad film. I give The Book of Henry a 2 out of 5 stars.