The Other Side of Animation: Henry & Me Review

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Sometimes, it’s hard to tackle certain animated films. This is especially true when the film has obvious problems, and is really schmaltzy, but you feel bad or at least a little uncomfortable criticizing since it’s about a kid going through cancer. Yeah, this is review is about Henry & Me. This animated film was directed by Barrett Esposito, created by Reveal Animation Studios, distributed by Henry & Me Productions, and was released on August 18th, 2014. This is an interesting movie. It’s definitely a lot more interesting to talk about than most of the animated schlock that comes out. It’s a 2D animated film with some CGI elements and a cast that includes Richard Gere, Chazz Palminteri, Cyndi Lauper, Paul Simon, and a slew of famous New York Yankee players from past to present. So, how well executed is this animated film of baseball and a child going through cancer? Well, let’s find out.

The story revolves around a young boy named Jack, voiced by Austin Williams, who was living a good life until cancer shows up and, well, ruins it. As he is waiting in the hospital by his loving parents and nurse played by Cyndi Lauper, Jack is greeted by a magical individual. The individual himself is a man named Henry, voiced by Richard Gere. Henry decides to take Jack through a dream-like experience, meeting both past and current New York Yankee players to cheer him on through the experience.

I feel more comfortable talking about the positives first since I don’t want to come off like a jerk reviewing a film about this subject. First off, the animation is actually better than I was thinking. The 2D hand-drawn stuff is gorgeous to look at. Sure, it doesn’t blend well with the CGI, but seeing it at all in this day of CGI animation is quite nice. I also like the voice cast. It’s nothing mind-blowing, but they do a serviceable performance, considering what kind of film this is. You actually get a tiny bit invested in a film that has some, quite honestly, corny lines. Even the child actor, who is usually the more challenging to take seriously as an actor, does a decent job. I also like the bright vibrant colors. In an industry that seems like you can only have drab colors, it’s nice to see something with vibrant colors. I also give the film credit for getting a lot of actual Yankee players to actually “act” in the film as themselves.

That said, Henry & Me, has a lot of problems. I hate to criticize this film due to the subject matter, but it is way too sweet and mushy for its own good.  There is just too much overly cheerful dialogue and “you can do it” speeches, and it can be a bit much. Speaking of “you can do it” speeches, the film is rather repetitive since each person Jack and Henry meet, tells him the same thing. I wouldn’t mind this, but it’s basically the same thing over and over again in a film that already doesn’t have a lot of substance to it. It also feels a tad cynical, since it is all about the most popular players in Yankees’ history, and, well, they do skip over a few glaring/bad moments in the history like Alex Rodriguez’s drug fiasco. A bit of my cynical side also tells me that this was just to support the purchase of Yankee merchandise. I know that seems harsh, but this film does have a lot of stuff to poke fun at. It also takes a bit of a weird twist where you think the entire thing was a dream, but then, yeah…you can kind of guess what happens in the end.

Henry & Me is tough to talk about in a couple of ways. It’s not a great movie by a long shot, due to a lot of problems. On the other hand, it is touching, and it wasn’t just made to promote the Yankees. I can understand if some child who might be going through the horrible experience of cancer gets inspired to keep pushing and make sure to stomp cancer into the ground, but you could also argue that it has a limited market and limited mass appeal. Like I said though, it feels like a film that had nothing but good intentions in its creation. I would see if you can find a way to check out this film if you are curious. Not the greatest baseball-focused movie ever, but you can do a lot worse. Well, I might not like Henry & Me much, but considering what I may be reviewing for my 30th review, Henry & Me is going to look like a masterpiece! Thanks for reading! I hope you liked this article, and see you next time!

Rating: Rent It!