We’ve all been the butt of a joke at one time in our life or another. What does one do when your career is making jokes? When you sing songs satirizing things and making jokes to make others laugh, what do you do when your own failings overshadow your comedy? That is the dilemma for Henry Philips in Punching Henry.
Punching Henry follows Henry Phillips played by Henry Phillips. Now he plays a fictionalized version of himself. At least I hope it is fictionalized. So, Henry was once a promising musical comedian. He sang funny songs and told jokes. He had a future. Now, he’s on the wrong side of 40 and is still doing the same thing and at the same level. He’s never made it big. He plays in small venues and stays in cheap hotels, sometimes paying his own way to get to the venue. At one point in the film, he spends time talking to a young man he once inspired. This young man has a similar shtick to his own. Conversely, this young man also has a plan for his career to make it work as opposed to Henry’s plan of just letting things fall into place as he goes through the motions.
Now imagine how this guy feels when he finds out a studio wants to make a TV show with him. Finally his big break is hitting. Unfortunately, his big break comes in the way of a reality show that will make fun of him. Everyone will watch as he fumbles opportunities or makes mistakes in front of a crowd. It is one thing for people at a venue to laugh more at his misfortune than at his jokes, but the whole world? What will Henry do when he finds out their plans are to make humor of him instead of showcasing his humor that he works so hard on?
Now, one of my favorite things about what I do here for The Nerd Mentality is discovering those films that are hidden gems. That movie that I never knew anything about but quickly becomes one I love. When you get random films sent to you, that happens. Punching Henry is not one of those films. I did even think it would be for just a moment, but it quickly fizzled out something hard. It ends so weak.
And even after showing promise, it just gets from one mediocre moment to the next at plodding pace. The humor is ok, but not great. And the time between laughs is so slow. And yes, comedy requires you to let jokes breathe. But this movie lets jokes go out back for a breath, then die of old age. Then a few scenes later something mildly entertaining happens.
To be fair, the real Henry Phillips might be a truly entertaining comic, but he is only ok as a lead. He isn’t terrible, but he isn’t engrossing. He doesn’t bring his character to life in any way. There is nothing truly likeable about Henry’s character. There isn’t any reason to hate him and want misfortune to befall him either. He’s just there. And emotionally so are you: just there. Not being moved towards any real emotion by the characters or story. It honestly reminds me of how I felt about Roadie. I really wanted to like this story about a guy trying to figure out his life as he’s aged and not really progressed. In both films, there are a few interesting moments that do make you curious how things will play out. But those moments long fade before the next thing of interest happens. And in both cases, the movie just kind of ends. There is no true development, no resolution and nothing even truly interesting happened in the life of the character. It just inoffensively exists.
Video Quality: 3.5/5
Punching Henry comes with a pretty clean transfer. The sharpness is sufficient and the colors look natural throughout. The blacks have decent levels but are occasionally muddled. Overall, it is a pretty satisfactory transfer.
Audio Quality: 3.5/5
Punching Henry includes a DTS-HD Master Audio track. This is a dialog heavy movie and the dialog is always good and clear. There isn’t really a ton of special effects sounds that need heavy punch. Background noise sounds natural and feels well directed.
Special Features and Packaging: 2.5/5
Deleted Scenes: A couple of forgettable scenes that were cut from the movie.
Brendan Walsh Suffers: Several takes of Brendan Walsh taking a hit to the face for a scene in the movie.
Stupid Joe: This is a pretty forgettable set of bits from another comedian in the film.
Trailer: ‘Nuff said.
Well Go gives us a pretty standard package to go with Punching Henry. This is a small release, so this is to be expected.
It isn’t that the movie isn’t worth a watch. I’m happy I watched it. It had enough moments to make me feel mildly rewarded. But it also had only a few of those moments and ended so meh. I’ll likely never even think about this movie again. I say keep this for a Netflix watch when you are bored. You know that day when you just don’t feel like getting off the couch to put a better movie in to watch for the 87th time. That is when this kind of movie should be watched. The technical presentation is fine, but extras are pretty forgettable. In the end, just don’t buy this release.