Jason Spevack plays a genius in a dumb movie.
JESUS HENRY CHRIST (Dennis Lee). 95 minutes. Opens Friday (May 25). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: N
Quirkiness in movies should be style, not substance, but in Jesus Henry Christ it's the entire raison d'être.
Writer/director Dennis Lee's sophomore feature (after the reviled Fireflies In The Garden) is supposedly a coming-of-age comedy about a boy genius (Jason Spevack). However, the movie has the attention span of a child with ADHD, getting so caught up in whatever oddities it conjures that it can't focus on telling a simple story.
Henry starts speaking at nine months and enters college when he's 10. Seeking his biological dad, he finds Dr. Slavkin O'Hara (Michael Sheen) and his miserable daughter Audrey (Samantha Weinstein), both of whom have enough issues to make their own movie, preferably directed by Wes Anderson. Think The Kids Are All Right by way of Rushmore.
Lee constantly interrupts the plot with visual gimmicks and asides about Henry's left-wing, über-feminista mom's (Toni Collette) family history of stooopid fatalities, or sperm donor Dr. O'Hara's peculiar bout with testicular cancer. These tidbits detract from the relationship between Henry and Audrey, which, despite the fine child actors, remains undercooked.
All the while, the movie crassly deals with issues of race and sexual orientation, not in a way that's convincingly progressive. Apparently throwing in a black kid adopted by a white family and a young girl raised to be queer are easy (read manipulative) ways to make your film idiosyncratic.