Starring: Theo Stevenson, Anjelica Huston, Richard E. Grant
Director: Nick Moore
Running Time: 93 mins
Horrid Henry: The Movie is a British film about a young boy called Henry, who despite hating everything about school, ends up having to team up with some of his worst enemies to save his school from closure.
This film is quite exceptional, and by no means in a good way. In what can only be described as an hour and a half of various hallucinogenic episodes, Horrid Henry: The Movie is a painful, tedious and shockingly bad film that not only fails to use it source material wisely, but also wastes the talents of some proper actors. More on that in a moment.
Now, if you’re over the age of 25 and don’t live in the UK, you probably have no idea what Horrid Henry is. However, for many people (including me), Horrid Henry was a legendary series of kids’ books that you could read again and again. And that’s why the unbelievable failure of this film is even more apparent.
In the books, Henry was your typical young kid who much preferred mischief to doing anything related to school. He’d always get into trouble, but there was something really fun and cool about him and his friends causing little bits of mischief to the people in his class, his family and in particular in his teacher.
In this film, however, the character is nowhere near as likable as the books, and the scope of the story is totally overblown. While the books were small, relatable stories, this film goes completely overboard with Henry having ridiculous ambitions of being a rockstar, villains that act like watered-down Bond villains, and even an entire broadcast of Henry appearing on his favourite TV show.
So, from the outset, the film is pretty much dead simply because it doesn’t understand the source material well enough. However, things get far, far worse as the movie goes on.
Perhaps most disappointingly, there are some really good actors in this film that are not only wasted, but almost humiliated in this complete mess of a film. People like Rebecca Front, Richard E. Grant and even Anjelica Huston are thrust into ridiculously campy roles that make them look more stupid than anything else, and it’s really depressing to watch.
The young kids are the main focus of the film, and although their performances aren’t as poor as some of the adults, they’re not incredible, and it all points to one thing being at fault: the directing.
You see, kids’ films don’t need to be brash and stupid just to make children laugh. Pixar, Disney and many more have proven that a kids’ film can be properly entertaining even if it has a bit of a brain, but it seems as if director Nick Moore entirely decided against that.
All of the performances here are completely over the top, beyond levels that even Austin Powers would find ridiculous and camp, and in tandem with the film’s brutally colourful visuals that make your eyes feel like burning, it suggest that Moore felt that brash, moronic and shrill was the way to go for this film.
It’s pretty painful to watch from the start, but it all culminates in a shockingly bad final act in which we watch Henry on a kids’ TV show being paraded around by two nightmarish humanoids that scream their way through awful dialogue as the story completely falls to pieces in a gooey and almost terrifying setting.
Overall, I hated Horrid Henry: The Movie. I can’t say I expected much at first, but given that I was a fan of the books as a kid, I felt that this film completely missed what the spirit of the books were, wasting good acting talent in exchange for painfully shrill and stupid hijinks throughout, and that’s why I’m giving it a 3.9.