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The Wonder of the Cinema

#40 Regarding Henry

Regarding Henry

Harrison Ford as the title character, Henry Turner

Harrison Ford as the title character, Henry Turner

Leading up to 1991’s Regarding Henry, Harrison Ford’s body of work since wrapping the final Star Wars film of the original trilogy, Return of the Jedi, moved in a decidedly more dramatic and serious direction.  Other than two Indiana Jones sequels–the lackluster Temple of Doom and the successful Last Crusade–the other four of the five films were dramas.  Witness earned Ford a nod for Best Actor, but the Oscar went to William Hurt (Kiss of the Spider Woman) as well as a nomination for the Golden Globe for Best Actor(which Ford lost to John Voight in Runaway Train).  Next Ford moved on to Mosquito Coast.  This film failed to resonate with viewers as it earned only $14 million domestically.  However, Ford did earn another Golden Globe nomination and another loss… this time to Bob Hoskins in Mona Lisa.  In 1988 he was in two films, the Roman Polanski’s box office bomb Frantic and the very successful romantic comedy Working Girl.

He’s going to wake up a new man…

Regarding Henry is a shallow film about a deep subject: self image.  Ford is a slick lawyer, Henry Turner, famous for doing whatever it takes to win is cases even hiding evidence.  He cheats on his wife, fails to relate to his shy daughter(wonderfully played by Mikki Allen), and is an all-around SOB.  Then he walks in on a convenience store robbery and gets shot in the head(by a young John Leguizamo).  Suddenly Henry has to learn to walk, speak, eat, and read again.  His memory and personality are affected.  He learns that he wasn’t a nice guy before he was shot, and he sets out to make amends.  And what results is a fairly predictable heartwarming story.  Bad guys lose, and the good guys win and get the happy family.

Still despite its flaws I enjoyed Regarding Henry.  I hadn’t seen it in years, in fact I think the last time I saw it was on VHS.  The screenplay by J.J. Abrams(yes, that J.J. Abrams) is obvious and trite, but Ford, the young Mikki Allen(who never acted on film again) and Annette Benning all perform better than the material.  The direction is workmanlike and essentially invisible.  Mike Nichols best known for directing The Graduate, Silkwood, Primary Colors, and Charlie Wilson’s War lets the actors carry the picture.  He’s directed seventeen actors in Oscar nominated performances.  An it’s clear that is what Ford and Benning are shooting for, but sadly the story is too cliche.  Still it’s an enjoyable 107 minute film worth seeing.

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About Rob Sterner

English teacher, Film buff, Filmmaker, Writer, Musician, Photographer, Runner, Taoist, Thinker, List maker...

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