Quick Review: Mr. Harrigan’s Phone
Some Connections Never Die
The following is my review for the film Mr. Harrigan’s Phone. A reminder, you can click this link to see how I grade films when I review them.
Craig, a young boy living in a small town befriends an older, reclusive billionaire, Mr. Harrigan. The two form a bond over books and an iPhone, but when the man passes away, the boy discovers that not everything dead is gone, and finds himself able to communicate with his friend from the grave through the iPhone that was buried with him.
In my opinion there is no modern writer as good as Stephen King - even with his tendencies to not stick the landing towards the end. And whenever we get a new film adaptation of one of his works I’m always down to give it a chance. Granted we ended up with Firestarter earlier this year which I, um, did not like; but the quality of his works being adapted to film can vary significantly so I think the gamble is worth it.
This time its a new movie from Netflix in Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, adapted from the novella in the It Bleeds collection. If you’ve read the source material its a pretty straightforward and short little novel with not much action in it, so I was curious as to how they were gonna’ make this adaptation work at about a hundred-plus minutes in runtime.
The movie itself honestly looks and feels like a straight to TV or straight to streamer film. Thank God they never got crazy enough to send this to theatrical because it doesn’t have any cinematic quality to it and the simple supernatural story this is with little action wouldn’t have helped matters either. I can see why some might walk away from this thinking it was a cheap and forgettable movie. The character motivations are frustrating to watch at times in this where as in the novella you get more nuance and understanding. The movie also has a pretty abrupt ending that attempts to tie in a subplot for a stronger finish than the novella, but nonetheless it still might make some say aloud “That’s it?!” when the credits roll.
But I don’t think its ALL bad. Donald Sutherland plays the titular role and delivers a great performance that took me out of the movie more than a few times. He really does seem like that elderly curmudgeon neighbor bothered by modern day things and people in general. It was also interesting to see him without facial hair for once. Jaeden Martell from the IT films plays the main protagonist and does a wonderful job with the material given in making our lead be sympathetic even when his actions end up hurting more than he bargained.
All in all, I came away from this feeling mixed, but generally positive. Its spooky season, its on Netflix for no extra charge, and I think Stephen King fans will generally like this as a “one and done” watch as I did. I’d pick up the call on this one King fans, but if you’re not a major fan of the scribe, you may end up wanting to hang up.