MR. HARRIGAN’S PHONE
(director/writer: John Lee Hancock; screenwriter: based on a short story by Stephen King; cinematographer: John Schwartzman; editor: Robert Frazen; music: Javier Navarette; cast: Donald Sutherland (Mr. Harrigan), Cyrus Arnold (Kenny Yankovich), Joe Tippett (Craig’s Dad), Jaeden Martell (Craig), Colin O’Brien (Young Craig), Kirby Howell-Baptiste (Mrs. Hart, teacher), Frank Ridley (Reverend Mooney), Chelsea Kurtz (Craig’s Mom), Thomas Francis Murphy (Pete Bostwick), Peggy J. Scott (Edna Grogan), Daniel Reece (Deane Whitmore); Runtime: 104; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Jason Blum/Ryan Murphy/Carla Hacken; Netflix; 2022)
“It’s another of Stephen King’s stories that fails to make a connection when transferred to film.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
It’s adapted to film from a Stephen King novella from his 2020 collection If It Bleeds. It’s written and directed by John Lee Hancock (“The Blind Side”/”The Alamo”), as a super-natural coming-of-age story. Though okay, even if cornball, it’s still another of Stephen King’s stories that fails to make a connection when transferred to film.
In 2003. the teenager Craig (Colin O’Brien) lives in the small town of Harlow, Maine, where the elderly, grumpy, misanthropic and reclusive financial mogul billionaire Mr. Harrigan (Donald Sutherland) also lives. They are both book lovers, who bond over this connection. A few years go by and the kid (now played by Jaeden Martell) reads books to the old man with poor eyesight, three times a week, in the afternoons, for $5 an hour, at his mansion. Craig reads aloud such books as Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Heart of Darkness. When Harrington suddenly dies, the kid finds he can still contact him in his grave by iPhone (the kid buys the phone after Harrigan gives him a winning lottery ticket, and buries the phone in his coffin–thereby reaching him in his grave).
Joe Tippett plays Craig’s loving single parent working-class widowed dad. Kirby Howell-Baptiste plays his supportive science teacher. Daniel Reece plays the drunk driver who kills his favorite teacher and gets off with a slap on the wrist, and the giant school bully and drug dealer is menacingly played by Cyrus Arnold.
The story takes a healthy rip at technology and those who rely on it. But the sweet film has no scares required for a horror pic, offers a flat story with no tension and an idyllic New England locale that made me hungry for lobster rolls and not for such a syrupy film.
REVIEWED ON 10/28/2022 GRADE: C+