out of Five
Running time: 83
Over-indulgent children's comedy that's let down by a sloppy script, patchy direction and some poor performances, though it does have the occasional moment and its target audience will probably enjoy it.
What's it all about?
Directed by Nick Moore, Horrid Henry: The Movie (3D) is based on both the books by Francesca Simon and the animated TV show and stars Theo Stevenson as homework-dodging pre-teen Horrid Henry, who's constantly in trouble with his parents (Mathew Horne and Siobhan Hayes), his teacher Miss Battleaxe (Anjelica Huston) and his headmistress Miss Oddbod (Rebecca Front). However, when Henry's annoying younger brother Perfect Peter (Ross Marron) uncovers a plot by private school headmaster Vic Van Wrinkle (Richard E Grant) to have their school closed down, he has to join forces with his nemesis Moody Margaret (Scarlett Stitt) to save the school he's always hated.
Newcomer Theo Stevenson is cute enough that he stays on the right side of appealing, despite the constant mugging (at least he's not as punchable as Diary of a Wimpy Kid's Zachary Gordon), though he fails to spark any notable chemistry with any of his co-stars. Similarly, the 3D effects are well done, even if they're put to some repulsive uses, such as a bogey being flicked directly at the audience.
In addition, Huston is excellent as Miss Battleaxe (she gets the film's only decent laugh) and there's strong support from Parminder Nagra (as Miss Lovely) and Richard E Grant, though the film completely wastes a host of celebrity cameos that includes Prunella Scales, Jo Brand, Noel Fielding and Kimberley Walsh.
The main problem is that the scrappy script and patchy plot are all over the place: the set-up of corrupt school inspectors (twins, a nice touch) trying to close the school down is a strong premise, but the solution (um, winning a talent show) makes no sense and even though the script acknowledges that it's a ridiculous plan, it still doesn't work. It's also let down by some poor child performances, notably Scarlett Stitt and all the members of Henry's Purple Hand Gang.
On top of that, the film is painfully unfunny (unless you think Mathew Horne eating baby vomit sandwiches is comedy gold) and packed with pointless set pieces that don't work at all, such as a rap video, a laboured dance sequence and an excruciating, badly directed TV competition that goes on forever and slows the film to a crawl.
Undemanding pre-teen fans of the books and the TV show probably won't be disappointed, but dragged-along adults will find Horrid Henry: The Movie something of a chore.
Horrid Henry: The Movie (U)