Picks and Pans Review: Regarding Henry
Sometimes endearingly silly but more often just plain silly, this comedy-drama attempts to do for being shot in the head what Pretty Woman did for prostitution: suggest it is a good way to improve your life.
Directed with unlikely naïveté by Mike Nichols, the film hinges on a transformation that takes place after Ford is rendered amnesiac and crippled when he's shot during a Manhattan holdup. Once a cold, ruthless lawyer, he turns into a monster pussycat. He's now affectionate, thoughtful, sexier, honest—he even likes puppies.
This sounds as if it ought to be a satire, but Nichols plays the large themes straight. Most of the endearing parts concern Ford's relationship with the physical therapist who helps him, Bill Nunn. Ford is warm and appealingly vulnerable, Nunn tough and funny.
But too many plot turns are pat—Ford's instant recovery, the newfound devotion of his wife (Bening, in a passive role), his rejection of his career. It took De Niro two movies—Stanley & Iris and Awakenings—to solve problems Ford polishes off in a snap.
A better script might have finessed these implausibilities, but writer Jeffrey (Taking Care of Business) Abrams fills the serious part of the story with such stilted lines as "Don't listen to nobody trying to tell you who you are."
In the supporting cast are Donald Moffat as Ford's cynical boss, Mikki Allen as Ford and Bening's sullen daughter and an unidentified beagle as the pooch Ford brings home. The movie represents a great career move for the beagle; everyone else might have thought it over. (PG-13)