Pre-teen literary sensation Horrid Henry gets his feature film debut in dizzying three-dimensional detail. The main theme of the film is alliteration, each and every character has an alliterated name. Horrid Henry’s sub-plot comes in the form of corrupt headmaster, Vic Van Wrinkle (Richard E Grant) and his evil plan to make millions by bribing a pair of school inspectors into closing down every other school in the area. First on the list is Henry’s school, Ashton Primary.
Henry (Theo Stevenson) is an audacious eleven-year-old who can’t spell, let alone complete any homework. He leads a gang of pre-teen tearaways called “The Purple Hand Gang” who spend every waking moment either planning mischievous tricks to play on Henry’s neighbour, Moody Margret, or playing in their imaginary band, Zero Zombies. When school inspectors visit and insist Henry’s teacher, Boudicca Battle-Axe (Anjelica Huston) is fired, events are set in motion that will see the eventual closure of Ashton Primary. That is, unless Henry teams up with aforementioned Moody Margret and his prissy little brother Perfect Peter to expose Vic Van Wrinkle for the two-dimensional villain that he is.
Watching Horrid Henry as an adult basically equates to a 90-minute-long assault on the senses, which the needless 3D effects only add to. Kids, on the other hand, will most likely love watching Henry foil Wrinkle’s fiendish plan and sing a song on stage about singing a song on stage; actually there are many, many songs in this film. Although it’s not, it really should be listed as a musical, so be prepared for some horrific lyrics and a cameo from a monstrously out of shape Noel Fielding playing the part of a world famous rock star.
Events culminate in Henry being asked onto his favourite TV show, Too Cool For School (2C4S), in an attempt to win “the big cash prize” so he can bribe the school inspectors himself and get them to re-open Ashton Primary (the morality of bribery is never really addressed). 2C4S is hosted by Dick and Dom, who play even more exaggerated versions of themselves – yes, it is possible. So just when the excessively alliterated world of Horrid Henry has you on your last nerve you’re forced to contend with Dick and Dom after they’ve drank far too many espressos. Adults will struggle to see this feature through to its end, but children (very, very young children) will revel in its over-the-top styling and unimaginative script.