A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Horrid Henry: The Movie is based on the popular British chapter books by award-winning author Francesca Simon. The main character -- Henry -- is a prankster boy who hates school, dreams of becoming a rock star, and revels in stinky, scatological "boy humor." Families averse to fart/booger jokes will want to steer clear, but otherwise the only thing objectionable is the number of insults that are hurled in the movie ("slug bucket," "bogey brain," "cockroach fart," etc.").
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What's the story?
Based on Francesca Simon's popular series of Horrid Henry books, HORRID HENRY: THE MOVIE follows Henry (Theo Stevenson), a misbehaving English boy who plays pranks, fights with the rule-following girl in his class, and has a hate-hate relationship with his teacher, Miss Battleaxe (Anjelica Huston). When Henry, the leader of the Purple Hand Gang of pranksters, embarrasses his elementary school during a big inspection, Miss Battleaxe gets fired, and the school is put on probation. Forced to attend an all-girls private school (his wealthy great aunt believes he's a girl), Henry finds himself collaborating with his rule-following brother, Perfect Peter (Ross Marron), and his archnemesis neighbor, Moody Margaret (Scarlett Stitt), to save his old school.
Is it any good?
This is a forgettable, fart-joke-filled adaptation. While wildly popular in Great Britain, Francesca Simon's Horrid Henry books haven't found the same kind of success across the pond. Most American audiences, therefore, won't have the built-in familiarity that they have with, say, the Ramona or Wimpy Kid stories. Maybe it's better that way. Perhaps if Henry were a character dear to someone's heart, the movie would deserve one less star.
Henry is your standard Dennis the Menace "problem child"-meets-class clown. But Stevenson's portrayal of Henry is so over the top (as is every aspect of this production) that it seems better suited for a TV special than a full-length film. ER fans will relish a supporting role by Parminder Nagra as Miss Lovely (the sweet and pretty foil to the strict and humorless Miss Battleaxe), and it's always a joy to see Huston work. But even those notable supporting actresses can't elevate this mess of a movie.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about book-to-screen adaptations. How are your expectations different when you're familiar with the books? Does this movie make you want to read the Horrid Henry books?
Do you think all the rude/body humor is funny? Why are movies aimed at young kids -- especially boys -- filled with so many poop/fart/booger jokes?
What did Henry learn about school and his school nemesis? Do you think people are more than their reputations?
- In theaters: January 11, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: June 4, 2013
- Cast: Anjelica Huston, Parminder Nagra, Richard E. Grant, Theo Stevenson
- Director: Nick Moore
- Studio: Phase 4 Films
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Book Characters
- Run time: 93 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some rude humor
- Last updated: December 10, 2020
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