From the Archives: The Book of Henry review

From the Archives: The Book of Henry review

In the interest of getting “hard” copies of my work under one roof, I plan to spend the next few weeks posting the entire archive of my film journalism here on ScullyVision. With due respect to the many publications I’ve written for, the internet remains quite temporary, and I’d hate to see any of my work disappear for digital reasons. As such, this gargantuan project must begin! I don’t want to do it. I hate doing it. But it needs to be done. Please note that my opinions, like everyone’s, have changed a LOT since I started, so many of these reviews will only represent a snapshot in time. Objectivity has absolutely no place in film criticism, at least not how I do it. 

Without further ado, I present to you: FROM THE ARCHIVES.
Originally posted on Cinema76.

A few weeks back a drunken idiot was caught on video making a fool of herself at Helium Comedy Club here in Philly. During her insane tirade she managed to abuse and assault not just fellow attendees of the show, but the manager of the club, and even the divinely calm police officer tasked with the thankless job of reigning her in. In the midst of her mania she apparently felt it was a good idea to call out the name of her employer as if it granted her some sort of credibility in a matter where things like credibility flew out the window long before. It was a dumb move on her part, and it ultimately led to her losing her job as an on-air personality for PHL17.

Good. That’s what you get when you work in the public eye and act like it affords you some sort of privilege to act like a monster. That said, a TON of people, most of whom have spent a collective total of 10 minutes watching PHL17 in their entire lives, immediately reached out to the station to demand that this moron be canned, seemingly just to spend a few minutes of their sorry existence wielding power in the name of being “in the right.” As I said before, she most definitely deserved to lose her job, and given the circumstances it was inevitable, regardless of societal input. But even so, I am disgusted by the idea that we live in a culture where we simultaneously shame the poor AND try to get people fired over things that, as awful as they may be, are none of our business.

I bring this up because I want to draw a line in the sand and say how uncool it is to try and get someone fired from their job. It’s shallow, uncouth, and in my estimation, a step backward in terms of civility.

And now that that’s out of the way I’d like to announce that we should band together and do everything in our power to have Colin Trevorrow fired as the director of Star Wars IX. He’s nowhere near qualified for the gig, which he only landed because Jurassic World, a steaming turd of a movie which succeeded solely due to its title, made huge bucks at the box office. Before that he made Safety Not Guaranteed, a mildly enjoyable little indie with all the filmmaking panache of a crusty gym sock. He’s not very good at making movies.

So let’s get him fired.

And now he drops The Book of Henry on us. It’s not as bad as say, Jurassic World, the only movie that I feel actually hates me, but it ain’t good. Unlike Jurassic WorldThe Book of Henry has the benefit of being fascinatingly bad as opposed to just cynical and lazy. A lot of this has to do with the completely bonkers script by Gregg Hurwitz. It’s a trend I’ve noticed recently: scripts that feel like bland mash-ups of a variety of decidedly un-mashable movies. The most successful of these was The Accountant. The most ridiculous, Collateral Beauty.

The Book of Henry is all of the following things: – A boy-genius detective story. – A school drama about fitting in. – A hard-hitting tale of the familial grief process. – A reimagining of Rear Window. – An assassination thriller. – A Little Miss Sunshine-esque twee comedy. – An after-school special about child abuse. – A timely takedown of systemic power.

The Book of Henry is none of the following things: – Good.

A movie that attempts to combine the above referenced styles should, at the very least, be interesting to watch, if only because it couldn’t possibly be bland. Yet, Colin Trevorrow rises to the occasion, shooting this maddeningly off-the-wall flick in such a stylistically-devoid manner that the whole thing feels like an uncooked pile of rainbow dough. In a world where Michelle MacLaren was deemed too inexperienced to helm Wonder Woman, this hack gets a Star War?!?!? Come. On.

Fire Colin Trevorrow.

The few pleasures within The Book of Henry come from the ever-present feeling that at any moment something grandly idiotic could occur out of the blue. On this front the film absolutely delivers. It’s actually kind of inspiring to see something so ill-advised and nonsensical make it all the way through to production. By this metric, I could hire 150 random people to each write a page of script without any guidance, then randomly combine the pages and sell it to a studio.

Fire Colin Trevorrow and give Gregg Hurwitz a stern warning to watch himself.

I will close this review with a list of everybody who would be a better choice than Colin Trevorrow to direct Star Wars IX:

– Anyone that isn’t Colin Trevorrow

Jurassic World is garbage. The Book of Henry is garbage. Colin Trevorrow should be fired from Star Wars IX.

The Book of Henry opens today at Philly area theaters.

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