The naughty boy books by Francesca Simon and beloved of seven to nine year-old boys were a natural to be turned into a Brit Flick – which its makers no doubt hope will become a franchise to rival the cuter, funnier American Diary Of A Wimpy Kid series.
It’s packed with adult stars playing grotesques and gormless grown-ups: including Huston’s teacher Miss Battle-Axe, Grant’s evil headmaster Vic Van Wrinkle, Nagra’s Miss Lovely, Jo Brand’s Demon Dinner Lady and Noel Fielding as Henry’s rock idol Ed Banger. But the misadventures of Henry (13-year-old talent Stevenson) and his Purple Hand Gang, unexpectedly teaming with nemesis Moody Margaret and annoying little brother Perfect Peter to save their hated school from closure, are charmless, crude and make very little sense. Which wouldn’t matter so much, perhaps, if it was funny, but it isn’t. The cinema Henry (more grating than the storybook or TV animated one) is all too typical of kids who hate school, ignore their parents, loaf around their filthy rooms and aspire only to being famous (Henry wants to be a rock star, subjecting us to a string of lame, noisy rapping sequences) without ever lifting a finger to get good at anything.
And why it’s in 3D that looks like a cheap afterthought is anyone’s guess, except that it means higher ticket prices. Henry flicks a bogey towards the audience and that’s the special effects highlight. Small boys, of course, will enjoy the ever-popular farting and vomiting. For the more sophisticated it’s just painful.
Is Horrid Henry – The Movie suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
Henry competes in a weird, goopy, peril-strewn tv show called 2 Cool 4 School hosted by Dick and Dom in freaky make-up, and it’s a surreal frightmare more like something out of a Fellini or David Lynch film than a kids’ picture.