Watch your step or you might slip on this slushy sob story about a hyper-intelligent kid who suspects his next door neighbour of abusing his stepdaughter. It’s one of those films where Bad Things Happen, but director Colin Trevorrow (who directed ‘Jurassic World’ and is in charge of the 2019 ‘Star Wars’ movie) doesn’t let emotional pain turn his film’s life-affirming message into a bummer.
Jaeden Lieberher is Henry, a boy genius with a skyrocketing IQ (and miraculously none of the dysfunctions that might piggyback on his precocious gifts IRL). His fun ’n’ relaxed mum Susan (Naomi Watts) plays computer games while sensible Henry sorts the bills out on a spreadsheet. ‘Find me a member of the male species more grown-up than Henry,’ she tells her boozy best friend (Sarah Silverman, the only recognisable human being here).
I’ll avoid spoilers, but Henry’s mum and quirkily dressed little bro (Jacob Tremblay from ‘Room’, who’ll need therapy if he stars in any more films like these) take over his investigation of the neighbour, who is a powerful local police chief. The whole thing is boring and phony, with just a couple of lines of dialogue that feel true, like the time Henry says to his mum, after she has a sneaky daytime drink with Silverman: ‘It’s really great how you enable her alcoholism.’ ‘The Book of Henry’ will leave your heart well and truly unwrenched, your tears ducts unbothered.