HENRY'S CRIME - Slow, Plodding Comedy
HENRY'S CRIME (comedy)
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Vera Farmiga, James Caan, Judy Greer, Peter Stormare, Fisher Stevens, Bill Duke, Currie Graham, Danny Hoch and Heather MacRae
Director: Malcolm Venville
Screenplay by Sacha Gervasi, David N. White
Time: 105 mins
Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 4)
PREAMBLE: First, let me state that this is not a zombie movie - despite criticisms that lead star Keanu Reeves acted like a zombie in Henry's Crime. As the title character, Reeves' Henry Torne is supposed to be a dull, almost zonked-out loser of a guy who doesn't know what's happening most of the time. Some people may say that Reeves does a good job playing Henry as some sort of zombie while others may consider his portrayal as the real crime.
SYNOPSIS: Henry is a toll booth worker in the bleak city of Buffalo, New York, who seems to be sleepwalking his way through life. Henry gets an unexpected wakeup call when he becomes an unwitting participant in a bank heist. Rather than give up the names of the real culprits, he takes the fall and discovers his true calling. Having done the time, Henry reasons he may as well do the crime. Discovering a forgotten tunnel connecting the bank to a nearby theatre, Henry recruits his old cell mate Max (James Caan) in the heist.
He also finds himself falling for the feisty Julie (Vera Farmiga), the leading lady in a play called "The Cherry Orchard"...
HITS & MISSES: The most incredulous part of the movie is the conceit that Henry would take the fall for his so-called friends (played by Fisher Stevens and Danny Hoch) and languish in jail. Once we get over this implausible 'joke', it is easier to accept the fact that Henry the dullard needs to have things 'knocked' into him. Thus, after getting run over by Julie, his life changes - just as it did after meeting confidence trickster Max, who wants him to fulfill his dream.
Reeves may be playing Henry as a guy who sleepwalks through life but he is hopeless as a comedian. The laughs and the best lines are provided by Caan and Farmiga - the two artistes who can mouth ridiculous lines and get away with them. As the romantic lead, Reeves is perhaps better, but only by a notch or two - especially in a scene when he realises that he loves Julie more than money. Henry's Crime is more of a dark 'comedy of the absurd' - so don't expect gags like those of The Hangover kind. Directed by Malcolm Wenville, the pace is rather languid for a summer movie and it looks like this one is heading for the DVD shelves.
THE LOWDOWN: For those who like verbal comedies.