So other than Jurassic World (overrated to some) and Safety Not Guaranteed (good but too small to measure), this is the last films we get from director Colin Treverrov before he starts making the final installment of the new trilogy, Star Wars Episode IX. A lot of reviews on the internet are being very unkind to this film, in fact the hatred is so bad that there are now petitions to get Mr. Treverrov to be fired from co-writing and directing Star Wars, nervous that he’s going to fuck it up worse than Return or Revenge. While I am a little nervous that this filmmaker doesn’t have a lot to warrant this final film in the trilogy (I think they should’ve just kept Rian Johnson), I don’t think THE BOOK OF HENRY is that bad of a film to warrant him getting kicked off the project. In fact, I don’t think the film is bad at all, it is actually pretty decent. Not enough to warrant a buy from me, but saying that this film is “beyond ludicrous” is pretty ludicrous in itself.
It is just a simple family tale that does change tones several times throughout the film, however, I do feel those tone changes are warranted. If you watch the trailer to the film very, very carefully there is a twist that happens mid movie that you’ll be able to see happen from far away. But then again, a person that loves movies such as me, it is hard to get things past me anymore. But the tone is light, charming, and funny at the beginning, tragic in the middle, and a little thrilling in the end, but goes full circle and back to light and charming at the end. But like I said, the film earned it. I mean, with all the superhero shit, sequels, rip offs, remakes, reboots, you would think that something a little original that people would embrace, and if not think it’s fantastic, at least appreciate it for what it tries to do.
And the reason that the films works more than it should is the acting. Naomi Watts, Lee Pace, Jaeden Lieberher, Sarah Silverman, Dean Norris and Jacob Tremebley are all solid and at moments, incredibly moving. Nothing over the top or outlandish. I think the plot point of Naomi Watts, with an “elaborate” plan from one of her sons, setting out to kill her neighbor who is sexually molesting his step daughter. The way that plot point ended I thought was the most logical, and if it would’ve ended any other way, it probably would’ve brought the film to the true outlandishness these critics are thinking that the film actually brings currently.
It’s just a story. A lot of stories you have to leave your brain at the door, suspend your belief, etc., and if you don’t and take everything seriously, you’re not going to enjoy yourself. At some points, yes, you have to suspend your belief with this film. But for me that was okay, but I thought the film was entertaining for what it was. And with people worried that Colin is also writing Episode IX, he didn’t even write this movie, just directed it. Now yes, it worries me that he did co-write the overrated Jurassic World, but I don’t think Lucasfilm would bring him aboard if they didn’t have some confidence in him. Now they could always fire him, they did that to Josh Trank, but I think that was more to his behavior on the Fantastic Four set than it was on the actual product. Every actor that has worked with Colin seems to have enjoyed it, and he does bring out good performances, so I mean, let’s give the guy a chance. If he does fuck up Episode IX, then we can bring the pitchforks.
But in conclusion, The Book of Henry isn’t something to rush for the theater for. But it isn’t the abomination that the critics are making it out to be. In fact, it is a enjoyable afternoon Netflix watch. And something you pay attention to, not just put on in the background while you are cleaning your house. The quick 105 minute runtime flies by, and the ending ending of the film might bring a lump in your throat or two. But as we have all realized with Heath Ledger, some other casting and directing choices, we could be surprised. So let’s give Colin a chance, because really, he hasn’t made a terrible film yet.