Reviews for Colin Trevorrow’s “The Book of Henry” started pouring in on Wednesday, and boy, do critics slam the movie from the director of 2015’s much-loved “Jurassic World.”
“In its pure misjudged ickiness, bad-acting ropiness, and its quirksy, smirksy passive-aggressive tweeness, this insidiously terrible film could hardly get any more skin-crawling,” The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw wrote in his review.
Other critics called Trevorrow’s third feature “a manipulative exercise in emotional bullying” and a “dehumanizing mess.”
“The really sad thing is that this is a movie with some intriguing characters that has some real comic and dramatic potential, but all this gets lost in increasingly silly plot mechanics,” TheWrap’s film critic Dan Callahan wrote in his review.
“The Book of Henry” stars Naomi Watts, Jaeden Lieberher, Jacob Tremblay, Sarah Silverman and Dean Norris and follows a single mother who discovers a plot to rescue their next door neighbor from her abuse stepfather in a book her son Henry wrote.
Currently, the film holds a score of 28 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. The drama hits theaters on Friday.
See seven of the worst reviews below.
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian:
“In its pure misjudged ickiness, bad-acting ropiness, and its quirksy, smirksy passive-aggressive tweeness, this insidiously terrible film could hardly get any more skin-crawling. And its periodic attempts at lightening the tone with comedy are more chillingly humourless than anything I have seen in a long while.”
Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic:
“I am going to tell you that ‘The Book of Henry,’ which many people are likely going to go see hoping for a moving experience, what with its talented cast and gifted, adorable child actors, is in reality a manipulative exercise in emotional bullying. That may sound a bit rough, and maybe it is; the movie has some bright spots. But in the end they aren’t enough.”
Drew Taylor, The Playlist:
“‘The Book of Henry’ has one of those scripts, by novelist and comic book writer Gregg Hurwitz, that has generated buzz and been passed around Hollywood for years, without ever getting produced. And you can understand why; it’s a screenplay full of unexpected narrative zigzags, dialogue that’s comprised largely of tics and wordy affectations, and WTF-worthy moments that undoubtedly jumped off the page when reading it. But as a movie, the entire thing feels forced and hollow, less an authentic expression of the human experience and more a gee-whiz exercise in cleverness, slathered in a healthy coat of multiplex-friendly weirdness.”
Matt Goldberg, Collider:
“I will give Focus Features this: the trailer for ‘The Book of Henry’ is not misleading. When I first saw it, I couldn’t believe that was the movie. How was a movie about a precocious, 11-year-old who’s helping to raise his little brother and his immature mom also a film about the mom trying to assassinate their next-door neighbor because he’s molesting his stepdaughter? Those are two completely different movies. It’s like blending Capri Sun with absinthe. And yet that’s pretty much the movie director Colin Trevorrow made. He plays Gregg Hurwitz’ script completely straight, and what could have been a story about a child unable to come to terms with evil in the world instead becomes a dehumanizing mess that rides its high concept straight to hell.”
Ty Burr, Boston Globe:
“‘The Book of Henry’ tugs on your heartstrings like a cable technician yanking a stubborn wire through a wall. Accordingly, it is completely insane. The plot proceeds from the charming to the manipulative to the shameless to the demented in gentle steps that may lull some audiences the way a frog can be boiled to death by degrees. Others may watch this movie through their fingers, suspended in the delight that can attend a truly wrongheaded movie.”
Sandy Schaefer, Screen Rant:
“Unfortunately, Trevorrow’s third movie is more of an ambitious misfire than confident next step forward in the filmmaker’s development. ‘The Book of Henry’ awkwardly mashes together compelling individual elements, giving rise to a jarring and otherwise confounding viewing experience.”
Daniel Schindel, The Film Stage:
“Watching ‘The Book of Henry’ feels like being gaslit. You want to yell at the screen ‘This is absurd! Henry’s recorded instructions for Susan predict when she’ll turn the wrong way down the street! Is there going to be any acknowledgement of how insane this is?!’ while the movie calmly insists that this is all perfectly natural. That kind of rubbernecking-a-car-crash feeling is the only possible reason to recommend the film, if you’re into that, for whatever reason. Going forward, Colin Trevorrow hopefully won’t be put in charge of anything too impor — oh, Jesus, that’s right.”