Title: Jesus Henry Christ

Director: Dennis Lee (‘Fireflies in the Garden’)

Starring: Jason Spevack (‘Ramona and Beezus’), Toni Collette and Michael Sheen

Teens often spend most of their adolescence trying to spend as little time with their families as possible. But when they don’t know who one of their parents is, their need to find their family and identity is often one of the most important things in their life. The need to fully discover one’s background and personality is cleverly shown in the new comedy ‘Jesus Henry Christ.’ While the title character in the film, Henry, is known for his unnaturally high IQ, he is like many children in one regard-he wants to know his father.

‘Jesus Henry Christ’ follows Henry James Herman (played by Jason Spevack), a 10-year-old boy genius who is set to start college. While he’s smarter than the rest of the children in his former elementary school, he still longs for the one thing they have that he doesn’t: a father. After speaking to his Grandpa Stan (played by Frank Moore), Henry learns that he was a test-tube baby, and his biological half-sister is-the 12-year-old Audrey O’Hara (portrayed by Samantha Weinstein), who is an outcast herself. She is ridiculed by her classmates for being the test-subject of the book ‘Born Gay or Made That Way?,’ which was written by her father, Dr. Slavkin O’Hara (played by Michael Sheen).

Much to the dismay of Henry’s mother, the left-wing feminist Patricia (portrayed by Toni Collette), Henry searches for his father. Along the way, he meets Slavkin by chance in a book store, and the two talk about their lives. They decide to test their DNA to find out once and for all if Slavkin is really Henry’s father.

Writer-director Dennis Lee, who adapted ‘Jesus Henry Christ’ from his 2003 Academy Award-winning short film of the same name, perfectly captured the ever-evolving family dynamic that’s happening across America with the Hermans and O’Haras. The film proves that families no longer need to have a mother and a father to have intellectual children who aren’t afraid to stand up for what they believe in. Patricia and Slavkin realize that they must do whatever it takes to care for, and protect, their children, not matter what the personal costs are.

Patricia is a unique, strong-willed female protagonist not often seen in films. After seeing her mother die when she was only 10-years-old and her brothers die when she was a teen, Patricia is determined to make it on her own, without depending on anyone else. She goes to a sperm bank to get pregnant, so that she can raise the child on her own, but is afraid of how Henry’s feelings for her would change if he found out about his father. Collette evolves Patricia from only having an independent personality, and being driven to do the things she wants, into understanding her son needing to know the second half of his family. She realizes that in order for Henry to emotionally mature, he needs to know his father.

Spevack was the perfect choice to portray Henry in the comedy, as he truly captured the character’s ever constant need for answers and explanations. Not only does the actor subtly bring Henry’s feelings of superiority over his other classmates when it comes to learning, he voices the thoughts of many children who have never met one of their parents. Henry doesn’t understand why Patricia wouldn’t tell him how he was conceived, or let him search for his father. While Patricia is happy raising Henry on her own, he wants to know what his father’s like.

Sheen was also an intriguing choice for ‘Henry Jesus Christ,’ as he understands the doctor’s need to protect those around him. While Slavkin initially believes he published an important look into gender stereotypes, he comes to resent the very thing that made him well-known after realizing how it’s negatively affecting Audrey. Slavkin comes to fully appreciate his family when he meets Henry, and realizes how one decision can truly impact many people’s lives forever.

‘Henry Jesus Christ’ perfectly balances the idea that ultra-feminist women can successfully raise smart children on their own, but kids often want to know about both their parents, so they can know their true identities. While Henry is atypically smart for his age and knows more than many people older than he, he still longs for the one thing that would make him like his classmates-a father. No matter how unique children are, there are still certain areas where they want to fit in, and Henry is the perfect example of children who yearn to know their families.

Technical: B-

Acting: B

Story: B+

Overall: B

Written by: Karen Benardello

jesus henry christ movie review

By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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