New Version of Henry Poole Is Here is powerful and profanity-less!
by Phil Boatwright

Luke Wilson, Adriana Barraza. Overture Films. Comedy/drama. Written by Albert Torres II. Directed by Mark Pellington. 100 min.

FILM SYNOPSIS: When a man discovers that he has only a short time to live, he leaves his job, buys a rundown house in the neighborhood he grew up in and plans to spend his remaining days in seclusion. But after the realtor has the back of the home newly stuccoed, his kind, Catholic neighbor immediately sees the face of Jesus on the back wall. To the consternation of the pessimistic Mr. Poole, the religious discovery begins to draw people from all over the town, including the next-door divorcee and her doe-eyed little girl. Depressed and angry, our central character can’t bring himself to believe in miracles, despite those going on before his eyes. But God is merciful and patient.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Though a bit too somber, due the lead’s resonating depression, there is also joy, and when Henry and the other characters discover this jubilation, there are uplifting, inspiring moments that make it worth the wait.

Now, many of us tend to raise an eyebrow whenever we hear of someone discovering the face of our Lord on a wall or the bark of a tree, but the film is about discovering faith, with a subplot concerning the intriguing concept of things happening merely by circumstance. Are the details of life governed merely by happenstance, or are they a part of a great plan? Do things happen by chance or do they purposely serve to develop our nature?

These same questions were also raised in M. Night Shayamalan’s dramatic thriller Signs. Despite Henry Poole’s moving performances all around, and the filmmaker’s sincerity, Signs is a more entertaining film. That said, it is a pleasure to see a movie that embraces relationships and story elements. There are a few funny scenes, many moving moments, and a couple of displays of true gleefulness. I haven’t seen many of those lately. And I see a lot of movies.

This movie was released in 2008, but Anchor Bay Entertainment has just released a family-friendly version by taking out the curse words. Actually, in the theatrical version, the filmmakers avoided obscenity. The offenses were the profaning of God’s name by the lead, a bitter, depressed man facing death. Hearing God’s name followed by a curse is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. And viewing this new version, it became so apparent that it was unnecessary for the lead to irreverence God or Christ. It didn’t need to be there for character development. So, we are fortunate to now have a touching, inspirational film that does not misuse our Lord’s name. Thank you Anchor Bay.

PG (to deaden his fear of dying, Henry drowns his feelings in alcohol until he begins to find a reason to enjoy what time he has left; the misuses of God’s name and Christ’s have been removed from this new edition presented by Anchor Bay Entertainment).