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Paramount Studios presents
Regarding Henry (1991)

Bradley: You're going to be fine. You've got to go back sometime.
Henry: I just... I just can't remember.

- Bill Nunn, Harrison Ford

Review By: Jeff Rosado   
Published: October 16, 2003

Stars: Harrison Ford, Annette Bening
Other Stars: Bill Nunn, Mikki Allen, Donald Moffat, Elizabeth Wilson, Bruce Altman, Robin Bartlett, Rebecca Miller, John Leguizamo, Nancy Marchand
Director: Mike Nichols

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for (strong language, sexual situations, one instance of potentially unsettling violence)
Run Time: 01h:47m:21s
Release Date: September 09, 2003
UPC: 097363240341
Genre: drama


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ BBB+ D-

DVD Review

A much better film than I remember it from a multiplex viewing of a dozen summers ago, Regarding Henry represented a unique change of pace for star Harrison Ford. Looking to break out of his patented action-adventure specializations for a bit, he chose this Mike Nichols-directed effort that managed to not only showcase his fine dramatic chops, but also taps into his underrated gifts for light comedy (Indiana Jones movies notwithstanding; those are a category unto themselves).

Ford portrays Henry Turner, a defense attorney who's slicker than the Exxon Valdez and about as warm as a moth-eaten cardigan sweater in sub-freezing weather. One need not look any further for evidence as to the latter than his chilly relationship with understanding wife Sarah (Annette Bening) and woefully distant repartee with only child Rachel (Mikki Allen). One evening, he gets his comeuppance following a temper tantrum at home, after which he makes a late night convenience store run. Unwittingly stepping into the middle of a robbery, the counter gunman fires off a round of shots with one penetrating Henry's temple.

Although Turner survives, his reemergence from a coma combined with the ramifications of his brain injury have left him not unlike a baby. He's unable to speak, his motor skills have to be re-learned, and he has no memory of the past; an iffy road back awaits. But the trail is made smoother by an enthusiastic, sincere therapist (Bill Nunn), as Henry begins a journey filled with the conflict of trying to reconnect with his past, with some facets dramatically at odds with the heart inside the new man he's become (the mindset of his law firm, a business-like marriage and justifiably frosty daughter).


Regarding Henry is not perfect filmmaking; sometimes it threatens to meander into a valley of molasses, certain sections feel rushed (the effective rehabilitation sequences for one), and key plot points like how a man with a childlike mindset suddenly understands complicated law documents stretches believability at times. Yet, Ford's performance transcends the shortcomings with good support from Bening, Allen, and especially the great character actor Bill Nunn, who is so winning as the former collegiate footballer turned therapist, the movie loses some of its sunny spunk when he disappears for a couple of acts. Stargazers, keep your eyes peeled for wiry John Leguizamo in an early role, and Nancy Marchand of Sopranos glory in an uncredited bit in the homestretch. J.J. Abrams (credited as Jeffrey Abrams) of Alias and Felicity fame contributes the flawed, but impressive screenplay, laced with warmth, a good understanding of the subject matter, and unexpected clever bits of humor that really catch you by surprise. Combined with Nichols' patient direction, Regarding Henry is a few steps shy of being in the same league as the auteur's past triumphs (including The Graduate and Carnal Knowledge), but it weaves a story appealing enough to sustain your attention for a 107 minutes.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Considering the impressive strides Paramount has made over the last year (great recent transfers for Paper Moon, Targets, and Daisy Miller among them), this is a surprisingly indifferent effort, especially when you consider this film is only a tad past a decade old. Littered with motion artifacts, inconsistent black levels in the darker scenes and distracting grain that could have been lessened (a dual-layer disc would have helped), the results are disconcerting at times, but the warm autumnal colors and good contrast levels help keep these anomalies in check.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, French (Stereo)yes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Don't have much to say here because the film is so subdued in terms of its audio presentation, like most dialogue-heavy films are. But the 5.1 remix option gives a nice spread to the ambience of the outdoor scenes and is very kind to gifted composer Hans Zimmer's terrific, perfectly utilized score. Not a flashy soundtrack, but effective when it needs to be.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: I know a commentary from either Ford or even better, director Mike Nichols, would have been too much to ask for, but Paramount continues a nagging history of not including at least a theatrical trailer on their catalog titles; there is certainly enough room left on this single-layered.

Extras Grade: D-

 

Final Comments

Harrison Ford fans can mark one more title off their DVD wish list as Regarding Henry debuts onto the format. Now if we could just get The Frisco Kid out of home video hibernation.

 


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