Film & TV

"Jesus Henry Christ" Manages Quirk, Not Big Laughs

Egg, meet sperm. Sperm, my mother." And so it is that 10-year-old Henry James Herman (Jason Spevack) introduces his mother, Patricia (Toni Collette), to Slavkin (Michael Sheen), the college professor whose sperm-bank donation helped create Henry. With the second-highest IQ score in recorded history, Henry is a certified genius whose "Manifesto on the Nature of Truth" — there's no Santa, no devil, and no God — causes a Catholic-school riot and gets him kicked out for "heresy." Writer/director Dennis Lee (Fireflies in the Garden) works hard to generate big laughs but succeeds best with offhand jokes. He introduces Slavkin's people-hating teenaged daughter, Audrey (Samantha Weinstein), by having her scream, piercingly, for a really long time. It's sorta funny but mostly off-putting. Making their screen debuts, young Spevack and Weinstein give the film's most natural performances and provide its little bit of warmth, but it seems time for Collette to take a hiatus from playing bitter single moms.

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Chuck Wilson is a regular film contributor at Voice Media Group and its film partner, the Village Voice. VMG publications include LA Weekly, Denver Westword, Phoenix New Times, Miami New Times, Broward-Palm Beach New Times, Houston Press and Dallas Observer.