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Movie Review: ‘The Book of Henry’ Is Clever, Inventive and Unpredictable

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Book of Henry Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Book of Henry is a film that comes as a bit of a challenge to sell its genius. There is never a point when the film accepts one genre or tone, always throwing the viewer for a loop. The movie begins with the whimsy of an unorthodox family comedy, twists into a somber drama of loss and contorts into a nail-biting thriller.

And yet it never feels as though the movie is struggling to find its core, knowing full well where this train is going even when we don’t. I see so many films that always place themselves on a predictable track and hit the expected beats, which is why it’s such a joy to finally see a film that is brimming with surprises of all colors.

Book of Henry Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

Jaeden Lieberher and Jacob Tremblay star in ‘The Book of Henry.’

The story begins innocently enough with the highly intelligent and inventive Henry (Jaeden Lieberher) delivering a book report far too existential for an 11-year-old. The only reason he’s in a public school and not a more gifted program is for the benefit of being social around more normal kids. It’s hard to blend in when you spend your lunch hour trading stocks, but he’s trying to make an effort.

At home, Henry’s time is divided up between assembling all sorts of neat gadgets in his elaborately designed treehouse and going over the household expenses. Isn’t that the job of the parents? Dad is out of the picture and Henry’s mother Susan, played by the always-versatile Naomi Watts, isn’t much of a mom for such a smart kid. She’s not neglectful or unloving; she’d just rather play video games while Henry figures out the bills.

Life seems perfect for this family where Henry builds all sorts of neat inventions with his little brother Peter (Jacob Tremblay) and mom’s bedtime routine involves her self-written stories and songs. All is not well nextdoor, however, as Henry’s love interest Christina (Maddie Ziegler) is secretly beaten by her single stepfather Glen (Dean Norris). Not content to sit by and do nothing, Henry takes it upon himself to save her through proper channels. No luck on this front as Glen is such a revered member of the community that child protective services and the police are useless. This leads Henry to set his own plans in motion for rescuing the sweet Christina from another night of violence.

Book of Henry Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

The happy family is unconventional.

But Henry’s genius cannot go far as a brain tumor cuts his life short. As a sort of final request, he leaves his mother a red book with detailed instructions on how to save Christina. The short answer: Kill Glen. This is absurd, but the more Susan lays out her options, she comes to agree with Henry’s decision. She’s always been dependent on his lead after all, not having been much of a mother herself. But can she really kill for her son?

Related: Movie Review: ‘Cars 3’ Burns Out What Little Gas It Had

With so many wicked twists, The Book of Henry could have easily spun out of control into a chaotic movie that bounces around genres and tones at random. And, yet, it surprisingly manages to maintain its core of family drama for a film with child abuse, tearful death and a gun-toting mom.

Book of Henry Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

The infamous book.

What helps keep the film planted amid its confounding nature is the underlying theme of characters that fear they’re not quite there. Henry becomes so enraptured with saving Christina and sorting out finances before his passing that he forgets how comforting it is to be a kid before his untimely demise. Peter harbors frustrating thoughts of trying to carry on his brother’s legacy, fearing he won’t be the glue that kept mom stable. And Susan has the all-too-understandable anxiety of not being the right mother, frightened and paralyzed to move forward as the matriarch she must become.

Read more for the rest of the movie review of The Book of Henry:

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Izzy

Movie Magic: The De-Aging Technique of The Irishman

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Have you read Izzy yet? If so, you know that Izzy makes the apples that give the Gods their youth and immortality. It also seems Robert De Niro discovered one of Izzy’s apples too… In Martin Scorsese’s upcoming biographical film, he stars as Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, a labor union leader and alleged hitman for the Bufalino crime family. The trailer for the movie, which will premieres NEXT WEEK (!), also features a “de-aged” De Niro. “We’re so used to watching them as the older faces,” Scorsese said in an interview on the A24 podcast. “Does it change the eyes at all? …If that’s the case, what was in the eyes that I liked? Was it intensity? Was it gravitas? Was it threat?…How do we get that? I don’t know.” Some might consider this magic and I for one can’t wait to see the impact of Izzy’s apples on screen for myself. 😉

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“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.

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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.

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