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The Book of Henry

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A Rube Goldberg machine delights because it employs a ridiculously complex mechanism to achieve a thoroughly simple — and ultimately insignificant — result. The insignificance is what makes the complexity funny. So it’s disconcerting, which is a nice way of saying mortifying, when the titular boy genius in Colin Treverrow’s botched drama engineers a kind of large scale Rube Goldberg machine designed to help his mother achieve a result that is frighteningly significant. The rest of the film attempts to present the viewer with some justification for Henry’s actions, but (there and elsewhere) reveals itself as a different sort of Rube Goldberg machine: one that seeks to draw out simple human emotions through precisely engineered (but still ridiculous) mechanics. Meep morp, it’s funny when a boy talks like a sophisticated and mature adult, even in the precise moment when he admits that he is a child. And it’s touching when a ballerina weeps during her performance, meep morp. However hard the talented cast may try, those aren’t people up on the screen; they’re candles, balloons, and marbles. (2017) — Matthew Lickona

Rated PG-13 | 1 hour, 45 minutes
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