* * * * ½ (Joyce)
* * * * (Don)
(Quirky tale; full of surprises)
When you've reviewed an average of 3.5 movies a week for the past 40 years, it is very seldom that you see a movie that takes you completely by surprise with its quirkiness and cleverness.
"The Book of Henry" is one of those rare movies that makes you laugh, cry, think and wait for the next shoe to drop...before giving you an ending that sends you from the theatre with lots to think about. It is also one of those movies that drives a critic crazy. By telling too much, you spoil the surprises and clever plot twists.
Naomi Watts stars as Susan, a single parent of two young boys. She is a good mother and loves her two boys equally. Twelve year-old Henry (Jaeden Lieberher) is something of a genius, inventing wild objects in his treehouse, surprising his teacher with his succinct insights and making his mother rich with his knowledge of the stock market. His younger brother Peter (Jacob Trembley), that adorable kid from "Room,” worships his older brother and doesn't mind being in the background...until the fabulous ending.
The plot and mood of this brilliantly written movie shifts frequently, taking you along for a wild ride without losing you along the way. Without giving anything away, we'll tell you that it involves a book that Henry writes in, a young next door neighbor (Maddie Ziegler) who Henry believes is being abused by her stepfather, and a serious illness.
A bit "coming of age,” a little mystery that needs solving, a close look at bullying and violence, dealing with difficult situations, the challenge of single parenting, and other issues are dealt with both humor and pathos, so be prepared to laugh and to shed a tear.
If you want something different, this is the movie for you. Rated PG-13 with minor profanity. We strongly recommend it for teenagers and parents.