The Book of Henry Review

When you decide to wait on a certain movie to come out later after it’s released from theaters, you would hear people’s thoughts about the movie and be surprised to hear how negative it was. With Colin Trevorrow’s latest The Book of Henry being the talk of the summer, I’m utterly baffled about how not good this was.

Henry Carpenter (Jaeden Lieberher) is a gifted 11-year old boy who takes care of his single mother (Naomi Watts) and his younger brother Peter (Jacob Tremblay). When he discovers that their next door neighbor (Maddie Ziegler) might be in danger from her stepfather (Dean Norris), he devises a plan to save her.

Jacob Tremblay and Jaeden Lieberher in The Book of Henry (2017)

As much as I respect filmmakers for doing original, there was something strange that was happening with what’s behind this film being made. While this kept on going, there a sense of a story that went ridiculous and doesn’t make any sense to figure out what it all means once the reaches its second act. How does The Book of Henry manage to be frustrating?

How can a movie like this turn out to be very convoluted all at once? That should be put blame on the awful screenplay that felt like three different movies that don’t mesh at all. Turns out this script was written almost 20 years ago. And it shows.

The biggest issue with this is the massive tone shift that happens in this. Once it starts, it seems like it’s going to be a charming drama. And then, out of nowhere, it went from a nice glass of milk and someone spiked it with and made it a melodrama with a thriller side to it. There are so many moments that are like “WTF”. This has no train of mind about what each scene is trying to convince. These shifted tones are used in a confusing way. Even the trailer had that problem too. Some might consider it to be ballsy, but it’s not handled the right way. At this point, what’s the overall message it’s trying to reach to us?

Dean Norris and Naomi Watts in The Book of Henry (2017)

The performances are at least the bright spot of the entire film. Lieberher still continues to be a talented child actor even in terrible movies like this just like Watts. From what I heard, this is a better Watts/Tremblay film that last year’s Shut In. And Zigler was good enough, but they should’ve given her more lines to read.

This is just a hard movie trying to remember what it’s about because it’s somehow difficult figuring about what was the point of making this. After it was over, I felt like David After Dentist questioning,” Is this real life?”. Lee Evans plays a doctor and there was a line a dialogue he said and it physically hurt me.

From a movie directed by Trevorrow, this is deep, saddening, disappointing. I heard he’s a nice guy from all the interviews I’ve watched. This is coming from someone who’s one of the few people in this world who really liked Jurassic World because it was a fun movie. With months after this came out and the news that he’s not directing Star Wars: Episode IX, I very much think that was a good decision because this is the type of movie that can impact a director’s career.

Jacob Tremblay and Jaeden Lieberher in The Book of Henry (2017)

There are so many movies that are so bad, it’s good like The Room or Encino Man. But regarding this, it doesn’t reach that level of bad. It’s just terrible in general. This leans in the same area as something like Collateral Beauty.

The Book of Henry is a pure mess of an original movie with its staggering tone shifts and contrived story.

Grade: D+

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