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Commentary, Lead Commentary

Horrid Henry: The Movie

 

A Brief Lesson

For those of you unfamiliar with this particular English storybook character, Horrid Henry is about a boy and his various mischievous adventures. He comes from a series of books written and created by Francesca Simon and illustrated by Tony Ross, whose drawings are reminiscent of Roald Dahl’s work. This schoolboy prankster is well established on kids’ reading lists and, as of 2010, there are 19 books in total, including “Horrid Henry and the Secret Club” and “Horrid Henry has Nits.” There are also numerous joke books and activity books based on the popular TV adaptation which, unlike the 3D film version, is animated, so for fans, there is hopefully no room for negative comparisons.

The Film

First, some standard facts. Somewhat of a milestone, this is the first British kids film shot in 3D. It comes from director Nick Moore, whose only previous directorial credit is 2008′s “Wild Child,” although he was award-nominated for editorial efforts on 1997′s “The Full Monty” and 2002′s “About a Boy.”

The movie’s real draw is its excellent cast, the majority of which are, strangely, British comedians. If your kids drag you along to see “Horrid Henry” in all its feature length, 3D glory then they’ll be treated to the delights of the cream of Britain’s comedy crop … and Anjelica Huston.

Theo Stevenson as Horrid Henry

Also known as that boy in the church in “In Bruges.” Those of you who have seen it will know exactly which character and scene this is — a very brief role for Stevenson which, whether or not his acting career takes off, will surely follow him around forever. His only other big screen credit is playing Young Nick in “Fred Claus.” His central role here is his lead-role debut (pegged as the next Daniel Radcliffe?!)

Siobhan Hayes as Mum

Another big screen debut. Hayes is known for playing dim witted Abi in the hit BBC sitcom “My Family.” She’s also had roles in other comedy shows such as “Birds of a Feather” and “Little Britain.”

Mathew Horne as Dad

You may know him from Britain’s “Lesbian Vampire Killers,” a less-than-alright horror comedy for which people had great expectations. He’s also a stand-up comedian with origins at Edinburgh Festival and stars in “Gavin and Stacey.”

Anjelica Huston as Miss Battle Axe

Here, “Horrid Henry” pulls out the big guns of acting talent. An interesting choice of role for Huston but, then, so have all the other choices from this actress with famed family ties in the form of John Huston (father) and Walter Huston (grandfather). Aside from her role as Morticia Addams in two “Addams Family” films, she has had many a starring role in the films of Wes Anderson. “Horrid Henry” is a departure from her usually heavy and more intense films.

Richard E. Grant as Vic Van Wrinkle

A legend on British television, Grant perhaps gives “Horrid Henry” the leg up it needs. Originally from Swaziland, Grant was a member of Space Theatre Company in Cape Town before moving to London. His first major film role was in 1986′s “Withnail & I” with Paul McGann, a slightly-more-than-disturbing black comedy that has gained significant cult status since its release. If you are keen to know more about Grant, then you can read his published diary or watch the film that came out before it —2005′s “Wah Wah” starring Nicholas Hoult of “About a Boy” and “X-Men: First Class.”

Noel Fielding as Ed Banger

Known from TV’s “The Mighty Boosh,” Fielding stars in his first feature film as well. Since Boosh Fielding pops up now and again in the British comedy scene, as he does in “Horrid Henry,” his role as more cameo than supporting. He’s also made appearances in “Plunkett & Macleane” and can also be found on various quiz shows like “The Big Fat Quiz of the Year” and “Never Mind the Buzzcocks.”

Jo Brand as Demon Dinner Lady

Originally a social worker, Brand is well known for her unusual career change to stand-up and individual appearance. She mainly worked on the alternative comedy circuit before moving on to taking part in comedy shows, like Noel Fielding, in panels for “Have I Got News For You?” and “QI” with Stephen Fry.

Prunella Scales as Great Aunt Greta

Widely known as the much irritated wife of Basil Fawlty in the short-lived “Fawlty Towers,” the classically trained Scales has a seemingly unending list of parts in British TV shows and a few in film, including “Howards End” alongside Vanessa Redgrave. She also took a step back from TV to focus her talents on performing in radio sitcoms for the BBC.

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