2:17pm PT by Graeme McMillan
Should 'Star Wars' Fans Be Worried About Painful 'Book of Henry' Reviews?
The reviews are out for Colin Trevorrow's The Book of Henry and they are … not good, to say the least. How not good?
Given that the director's next project is 2019's Star Wars: Episode IX, Trevorrow's Henry — starring Naomi Watts as the mother of a boy genius, played by Jacob Tremblay — is under more scrutiny than usual. The drama's reviews are so bad they have people wondering on social media about whether or not the helmer will lose his Star Wars gig as a result, prompting the creation of the term "to Trank yourself." (Sorry, Josh.)
That's a concern echoed in The Hollywood Reporter's own review, in which John DeFore writes, "Those of us who've allowed ourselves to care about the latest Star Wars trilogy may be made fearful about the prospect of an Episode IX directed by Trevorrow. The garden-variety blockbuster lameness of his Jurassic World was one thing; after this near-catastrophe, can he really be trusted with the fate of the Jedi?"
If "near-catastrophe" sounds damning, consider that DeFore does, at least, allow that "one thing you can't say is that it's not enough movie," even if the abrupt genre shifts are described after the spoiler warning, "it's impossible to report how stupid things get without being specific."
Don't just take our word for it, though; The Washington Post's Michael O'Sullivan also calls out the problem of the movie's lack of coherence, calling it "the filmmaking equivalent of a monkey with the head of a goat, the tail of a fish, wings and teeny-tiny rat claws." (Spoiler: He doesn't mean that as a compliment.) "Trevorrow knows what he is doing — or would, if he were making four or five separate films," O'Sullivan continues. "In the end, The Book of Henry falls apart in a heap of loose pages, each one taken from a different script."
Does that make the movie seem like an interesting, overambitious failure? The Playlist's Drew Taylor argues against that interpretation, writing, "[J]ust because a movie is different (and, to be sure, this ain’t The Mummy we’re dealing with here) doesn’t mean that it’s good."
Along similar lines, Cinemablend's Gregory Wakeman writes that "just being risky and surprising doesn't automatically make a film audacious and impressive. It can instead be detrimental. Sadly, the twists and turns of Colin Trevorrow's The Book of Henry firmly fall in the latter category, as they make you feel frustrated, bored, and even a little startled at just how wildly and laughably inappropriate they make the film." The movie, he goes on to say, is "an unmitigated stinker … that should be avoided at all costs."
Certainly The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw would want to convince that it's certainly not good. The opening line of his review really sets the tone: "In its pure misjudged ickiness, bad-acting ropiness and its quirksy, smirky passive-aggressive tweeness, this insidiously terrible film could hardly get any more skin-crawling."
Need more convincing that Henry isn't exactly beloved? Turn, then, to Vulture, where Emily Yoshida writes, "The script is inexcusably bad and accounts for most of the film’s problems. But Trevorrow can’t draw a single emotional through line out of the muck, leaving his cast stranded in a directionless jumble of half-arcs. … The Book of Henry is a disaster to its bones, as mind-bendingly broken as The Room or Birdemic or any other piece of cult outsider art."
Amid the reviews making the rounds, Trevorrow tweeted some words of inspiration Thursday:
Be proud of everything you paint, even if Mom doesn't put it on the fridge.— Colin Trevorrow (@colintrevorrow) June 15, 2017
The Book of Henry opens Friday.