‘Punching Henry’ A Nightmare

by Joe Jarosz on February 24, 2017

in Print Reviews,Reviews

[Rock Fist Way Down]

I don’t get to a lot of movies these days. Crazy work out and a toddler prevents having a life. So the ones I do see, I try to pick and choose carefully. I used to see anything and everything when I was younger. Not anymore. So when the opportunity to watch Punching Henry came my way, I jumped at it because it had a lot of comedians I like. These people wouldn’t attach themselves to garbage.

Boy was I wrong. Punching Henry wasted 95 minutes of my life I will never get back.

At around the halfway point, I thought maybe this is intentionally being unfunny. There’s too many talented people in this film for it to be this bad. Sarah Silverman. Jim Jefferies. Tig Notaro. These people are hilarious in real life. None of them showed any interest in being there, Silverman especially, was more stoic than I’ve ever seen her be in a role.

The film follows Henry (Henry Phillips), a satirical songwriter who is lured off the road and back to L.A. after his agent informs him that Jay Warren (J.K. Simmons) a veteran TV producer decides to make a show about the life of a loser. What better casting than this one! Now I say back to L.A. because through a podcast interview with Silverman’s character Sharon, he tells us that he was run out of town over an unintentional racist comment. Years, later, he thinks he’s in the clear.

The movie’s plot is told by Henry through this podcast interview. This way, we’ve able to get a quick back story — world’s unluckiest comedian — while catching us up on his trip to L.A. And good lord is this guy one boring storyteller. His car gets stolen…he shows no emotion. His gay friend Jillian (Notaro) asks him to help her and her partner make a baby…he shows no emotion. A guy in the crowd heckles him during one of the most important sets of his life…he again, shows no emotion. If you’re not going to act invested, than neither am I.

So why should I care what happens to this guy’s career? He’s attempting to do something he loves, which is admirable, but yet he mopes about it constantly. If this is what the lives of comedians are like, then I’m glad I don’t know any personally or else I’d probably shoot myself because of their constant whining.

There was a movie I reviewed last year called Creative Control that went over my head. I didn’t get it, but it was at least interesting. Punching Henry is not interesting, it is not funny and is just plain bad. How Oscar-winner J.K. Simmons got roped into this, I’ll never know.

Joe Jarosz is a Midwest boy now living in California.

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