The Book of Henry may have the worst script I’ve ever seen. It’s fucking terrible and you can constantly feel how clever the screenwriter thinks he is. It’s like he took one screenwriting class and instead of his teacher telling him to burn the script and never show it to anyone, he high fived himself while jerking off and got it made into a Hollywood movie.
So, the set-up: Henry is an impossibly smart (basically actually omniscient) 11 year old kid who likes to build Rube Goldberg machines. You know he’s smart because he beats the lunch lady at checkers and handles his mother’s financial records while she plays Gears of War, and day trades outside his school while talking about how glad he is to have been born into a bull market. Naomi Watts plays his Mom, who’s a pretty normal single mother diner waitress. For some reason the movie treats her playing Gears and drinking with her co-worker, Sarah Silverman, interchangeably which is weird. Also Henry has a little brother who’s a normal dumb kid. He gets picked on,when Henry turns his back on him for like 5 seconds. Whatever.
It’s hard to convey just how bad the dialogue is and how insufferable Henry is. He’s just not a human character. He makes Elijah Wood in North look like a normal kid. He’s like a tiny 45 year old man who needs to be tucked in by his mom and is also Jesus.
Naomi Watts is actually… great in this movie. Considering the garbage script she has to work with she does an incredible job. I feel like she deserves some award that doesn’t exits for giving your all in a terrible movie. (Last year I would have given that award to Kevin Spacey in Nine Lives) Also the filmmaking in general is… fine. Adequate. The soundtrack is terrible, but that basically fits with this garbage movie, increases the charm a bit even. This isn’t a movie like Maximum Ride where the terrible acting, effects and direction are what make it amazing. This is a competently made movie built around just the worst script. Just putrid.
Now I can’t really get across how insane this movie is without going through the beats of the plot. And if I’m gonna start doing that I might as well go all the way so that will be on the next page. But here are some final thoughts.
There are at least like 3 movies here taking their own turns at the wheel, and in the end the whole thing plays out kind of like an insane Rube Goldberg machine. The movie ends up being such a convoluted mess that it actually fails at having a moral, which is definitely in it’s favor for my enjoyment. I don’t know how people decided this was an ok movie to make and release and I don’t know what the fucking point of it was. But I certainly wasn’t bored. This one will stick with me. I’ve been complaining about some movies not being bad enough, well these guys nailed it, so I kind love this movie for that. Every piece is so on the nose, crass, stupid, and completely pleased with itself. Although the fact that there was some teenage girl unironically clapping at the end makes me ill because this is such garbage.
Further evidence that the proclamations about the death of the Good Bad Movie have come premature.