The Book of Henry

I was having a bout of insomnia and picked the first movie that looked like I might not care if I fell asleep in the middle.  That movie happened to be The Book of Henry.  I went in blind with only the blurb and cover art to guide me.  Based on those, I was expecting a whimsical yet dramatic tale (or, as I said to my husband, “possibly whimsical but also probably gay”), probably fraught with some sort of underlying moral lesson.  The “crime” tag intrigued me, though.

I think I was only 15 minutes in when I started googling reviews to see what I had gotten myself into and whether it would be worth suffering through.  The titular character was INSUFFERABLE.  Like, it says in the blurb that he’s a boy genius, but he was the WORST KIND of boy genius.  The first half hour of the film can be summarized as “Henry is very smart and they all would be lost without him, except for [plot adult] who does not listen to him despite all of the evidence that Henry knows best.”  The worst.  I didn’t think I could sit through two hours of it, so I glanced at the reviews.

The first review I landed upon (yay Wikipedia) was this one from Owen Gleiberman:

“There’s the kind of bad movie that just sits there, unfolding with grimly predictable monotony. Then there’s the kind where the badness expands and metastasizes, taking on a jaw-dropping life of its own, pushing through to ever-higher levels of garishness. The Book of Henry … is of the latter, you’ve-got-to-see-it-to-disbelieve-it variety.”

Oh god damn, I’m actually kind of excited now!  Let’s see what kind of train wreck prompted that!

Whatever you are thinking right now—it’s worse.  Believe me, it’s worse.

Spoilers will follow.  You won’t be missing out, but you might want to experience it for yourself first, just for the novelty of it all:

Okay!  Here is the plot in a nutshell.

Henry is very smart and everyone else is an idiot who literally can’t do basic tasks without him.  The movie establishes this very clearly up front.

Henry spots neighbour girl.  Henry is suspicious that neighbour girl is being abused by her father.  Henry tries to get help for neighbour girl but no one will listen to him (INCLUDING the abuse tip line??!?) because lol you’re just a little boy Henry lol go back to your room and play (FFFFFFFFffffffffuck off.  There is a reason that adults written this way are so heavily parodied in Lemony Snicket, guys.  Because it is SHITTY WRITING, particularly when paired with the boy genius literally doing everything for everyone and everyone being so impressed by it). Henry plots plan to save neighbour girl because no one else will.

Here is where the movie actually did surprise me, and it was an interesting, if odd, twist.  Henry has a seizure and dies.  The titular character dies 45 minutes into the movie.  Hunh.  I can honestly say I did not see it coming.  But now the title makes sense because the rest of the characters read his diary (The BOOK OF HENRY, see?) and find his plans.  They decide to carry them out in his honour or some shit.

His rescue plans?  Murder the girl’s father.

Everyone goes “Yes this is a good plan” and starts putting it into motion.  Please note: at no point in this movie have we actually seen abuse happening, aside from some yelling and the girl looking sad a lot.  Literally murdering him does not seem like the best course of action at this point in time.

They get all their bits and pieces in place.  At the last moment, someone realizes (FINALLY) that this is actually pretty dumb and they maybe shouldn’t murder someone because a dead child wrote about it in a diary, and she confronts the guy instead of shooting him. (Or, like, reporting it).  She threatens to report him at this point and he does the evil moustache twirl and says “MUAHAHAHAHAHA THEY’LL NEVER BELIEVE YOU OVER ME!” and skips off into the darkness.

Now we have a dilemma.  We just established that killing him is the wrong course of action!  We can’t have the good guys shoot him NOW, because they would no longer be good guys.  Hmmm.  So, simultaneously, another adult decides to take Henry seriously and files a report.  The bad guy discovers a report has been filed and someone might take it seriously (despite his assertions that they would not), and resolves everything by killing himself.

Yay we win and we didn’t have to be evil to do it!  Mom adopts the girl and they live happily ever after in peace and harmony, finally learning to actually do their own shit and get things accomplished now that Henry isn’t here to do it all while they play Gears of War all day.

What. The. Fuck.

The most charitable thing I will do for this movie is tag it ‘unique’ because it certainly was that… ALTHOUGH, it did kind of remind me of that book I read where the little girls murder someone and bury the body and it’s considered the happy ending.  So maybe I am being too nice…

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About tagracat
I am not a professional, I don't get paid to review shit, I am just opinionated and I seem to have some sort of disorder that results in spewing my opinions onto the internet. I enjoy writing long-winded posts about things and sometimes I like to pretend people want to read them, so a blog seemed an appropriate place to stuff it. But mostly I just like writing about things.

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