The Book of Henry (PG-13)

Drama 105 min. June 16, 2017
By Craig D. Lindsey
The Book of Henry really wants us to believe that its 12-year-old title character (Jaeden Lieberher) is the smartest kid on Earth. Well, in many ways, he is. He's a rational, logical thinker who knows how to play the stock market. He handles his family's finances and works on cute, Rube Goldberg–style contraptions in his treehouse with his little brother (Room's Jacob Tremblay, looking like a baby Rick Moranis). He even knows how to self-diagnose himself when he feels under the weather.

Yet when he catches his classmate and next-door neighbor (Maddie Ziegler) getting abused and/or molested by her police-commissioner stepfather (Breaking Bad's Dean Norris), this whiz kid never bothers to buy or use the obvious tech to document the crime. After getting nowhere with the authorities and his school principal, instead of getting a camera and catching the bastard red-handed, Henry instead comes up with an elaborate plan to assassinate the commissioner. For this mission, he ropes in his mom (Naomi Watts), who has witnessed with her own eyes the abuse this man inflicts on the girl.

While Henry has been touted in its publicity campaign as "the most original movie of the summer," it certainly isn't the smartest. The story, by novelist and comic-book writer Gregg Hurwitz, seems more concerned with giving you major feels throughout — wrecking you one minute, making you giddy the next. This is especially true when a big twist happens halfway through the movie; it's a shameless, needless attempt to tug at your gotdamn heartstrings. Too bad this lunkheaded tearjerker is not even half as smart as its allegedly gifted protagonist.
Colin Trevorrow Naomi Watts, Lee Pace, Jacob Tremblay, Maddie Ziegler, Sarah Silverman, Dean Norris, Tonya Pinkins Gregg Hurwitz Focus Features

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