The Future is Bright in Book of Henry - I'll be in my Trailer

book of henry chalkboard

Monday April 3, 2017

I’ll Be In My Trailer is an ongoing series where I review a film before it is released, based entirely on the trailer.


Most movies that take place in the far distant future depict a world that looks very different from our own. Sometimes it’s a post apocalyptic hellscape like Mad Max, others a bright shiny Star Trek style utopia. Book of Henry takes a different approach, instead showing us an America that looks exactly like the one we know. It looks so much like present day America that the film wasn’t even marketed as science fiction.

book of henry crossing guard
This movie is so far in the future that the robot crossing guards look just like humans. They’re really just for show though, since self-driving cars have eliminated all traffic accidents.

Often science fiction movies rely too heavily on exotic settings to make the film interesting, relegating storyline and character development to second class citizenship. This film is very class conscious which may be why it puts the story and characters first. In fact it’s not obvious at first that this story is set hundreds of years from now. That’s how much they don’t focus on the setting.

book of henry chalkboard
In the future we are so consumed with nostalgia that we design almost everything to look like it came from a small American town in late 80s. We even replaced whiteboards with special touch screens designed to mimic the look of a chalkboard. Amazing.

Nevertheless as the characters are introduced it becomes clear that we are not looking at present day America. Henry’s mother is a single and raising him and his brother on a waitress’s salary. She earns enough money from her job that she can afford a modest home in suburbia.

book of henry house
By modest I mean worth at least half a million dollars and bigger than the house next door that belongs to the chief of police.

Clearly this only makes sense in some utopian future where labor laws have undergone drastic changes. The idea that a waitress in today’s America could earn enough money to raise two kids and afford the same basic lifestyle as the chief of police is absurd, even for a science fiction movie. I don’t care if her son is the greatest stock market genius who ever lived, that’s just nonsense. The Flux Capacitor is more believable. Fucking midichlorians are more believable.

book of henry
Ok, so you want me to invest your money from waiting tables so you can earn enough to buy a $500k house. I’m a genius mom, not a goddamned wizard. Good thing college is free in the future.

This movie has:
  • a genius prodigy kid
  • a single mother
  • who’s a waitress
  • a move into a new home in a small town

That’s a lot of worn out tropes to cram into one film. Book of Henry had a lot of potential to become a mess of clichéd garbage but instead we’re treated to a refreshing, hopeful vision of the future where American society has reached unprecedented levels of income and wealth equality.

5 stars for robot crossing guards