“The Book of Henry” stars Naomi Watts, Jaeden Lieberher, Jacob Tremblay, Sarah Silverman, Lee Pace, Maddie Ziegler, and Dean Norris. Released on June 16, 2017, the film is about an 11-year-old boy who comes up with a plan to protect his next-door neighbor from her abusive stepfather.
The film is directed by Colin Trevorrow, who also directed Safety Not Guaranteed and Jurassic World. With the only new release this weekend being Transformers: The Last Knight, I decided to get caught up on the other films that were released last weekend, starting with this one. I was first introduced to Colin Trevorrow through his work on the 2015 sci-fi blockbuster, Jurassic World, which I thought was a pretty fun ride from start to finish. While his latest project doesn’t involve any big-budget madness, it does seem to have that sense of sweetness and realism that could win the hearts of critics and audiences alike. Unfortunately, the former wasn’t too impressed with the final result, which could raise some concerns over him directing Star Wars: Episode IX. So, what went wrong?
If there’s anything that I enjoyed out of this film, it would be the cast. They did a really nice job at making these characters relatable, especially Lieberher as the title character and Tremblay as Henry’s younger brother, Peter. While the film is basically about Henry, it is actually about his mother, Susan (who is nicely portrayed by Naomi Watts), who is carrying out his plan to get rid of their next-door neighbor’s abusive stepfather. The film’s screenplay that was written by Gregg Hurwitz was decent enough to capture some sense of realism, as well as some sappy moments. Those were the things that helped me enjoy the first and second acts of the film, but what about the third act? Well, that’s where the film lost that connection it was going for. Not only did I find it disappointing in some occasions, but it also didn’t deliver its moral in a more positive and realistic way. The moral of the story is looking out for others who can’t look out for themselves, and I think it is a very good message for kids to learn. However, when the title character is actually planning on killing a stepfather who is being abusive to his stepdaughter, it somehow left me with a questionable feeling in my stomach, which I think could do the same for some viewers.
Overall, aside from its disappointing third act and its questionable deliverance of its message, “The Book of Henry” boasts a talented cast and its sense of heart and realism that the other low-budget summer dramas are known for. I can see why not a lot of critics like this film, but I can assure you that this is far from a terrible movie. It’s basically something that could’ve gone off in a better direction to fully support its moral, in my opinion. If you’re looking for a drama film this summer, this one might be for you. Otherwise, it’s worth a rental.