Wednesday 2 November 2022

REVIEW: Mr. Harrigan's Phone (2022) - Starring Jaeden Martell, Donald Sutherland and Joe Tippett

Review by Jon Donnis
When I first heard about Mr. Harrigan's Phone, I was intrigued. I want you to read the same synopsis that I did before I start.

"When Craig, a young boy living in a small town (Jaeden Martell) befriends Mr. Harrigan, an older, reclusive billionaire (Donald Sutherland), the two begin to form an unlikely bond over their love of books and reading. But when Mr. Harrigan sadly passes away, Craig discovers that not everything is dead and gone and strangely finds himself able to communicate with his friend from the grave through the iPhone in this supernatural coming-of-age story that shows that certain connections are never lost."

Now the first thing you think of is that this is going to be a supernatural type film, something similar to classic 2000 film Frequency. The problem is, that it is not, not in any way remotely is the last line of that synopsis true. I think the film has been slightly mis-sold, I understand it is based on an 88-page novella by Stephen King which I have not read. My issue is not so much with the film itself; I actually found the film to be very watchable, and enjoyed it, my issues is that it is not really what it is advertised as.

The film is more of a coming-of-age story for the Craig character, that is played by Jaeden Martell, there is no real horror element, there is no real supernatural element. The "Communication" with the dead Mr. Harrigan, is more of a therapeutic complaining by Craig, and a couple of nonsensical text messages, and then some coincidental deaths that Craig either asks for, or were Karma. If this happened in real life and was examined from a critical standpoint, everything could be explained.

In the end the film tries to hit on a few points about technology, living on your phone, the consequences of revenge and so on, but when you hear "Stephen King", you kind of want more, and I think if this film would have taken a few liberties with the short 88 page novella it is based on, and instead went full on in one direction or another, it would have been much better. Either as a horror film, or as a supernatural one. Instead it is just a nice drama.

The Good
A perfectly fine coming of age drama, at about 95 minutes it is a decent length, and the lead actor Jaeden Martell does a very good job and is convincing in his part.

The Bad
The film is just not what I wanted it to be, I wanted a Supernatural/Horror, and I didn't get that. Maybe that is my fault for not doing more research first and just relying on the synopsis.

I did like the film, but I felt disappointed that I did not get the supernatural/horror film that I was expecting. So I am in two minds here.

I score Mr. Harrigan's Phone a completely acceptable 6.5/10.

Out on Netflix now