Review: 'Henry's Crime' needs a kick in the keister
'HENRY'S CRIME,' a muted comedy with Keanu Reeves, is a painless, at times likable, drifty comedy. But its mood is so muffled and point so submerged, it's difficult to see why Reeves and the rest of the cast pooled their talents to make a movie about a nowhere man going no place in particular in Buffalo.
Henry, played by Reeves as a blank Everyman, does go at least one place. One morning, after returning from his night job at a tollbooth, he agrees to join an acquaintance, Eddie Vibes (Fisher Stevens), in a baseball game as a substitute for another guy. The game turns out to be nonexistent. Instead, hapless, luckless, expressionless Henry ends up the accidental wheelman in a robbery that lands him in the slammer, where he shares a cozy cell with confidence man Max Saltzman (James Caan, unexpectedly twinkly).Eventually Henry is released, and the plot eases forward as he loses one woman (Judy Greer as Debby), finds another (Vera Farmiga as Julie), plans a life of crime and discovers a possible calling. There's more if not much, including a strained use of "The Cherry Orchard," mounted by a theater with Julie as Lyubov, the indebted aristocrat who loses the orchard. The play doesn't have much to do with Henry and his slow-evolving world, although it's nice to hear Chekhov. Like Henry, the script and the direction are content to coast.
However appealing, Reeves isn't what you would call a live wire, even in his most invigorated action movies, and his mellow presence only helps keep the diminished energy at critically low levels. The movie needs something, a modest surprise, a dose of vitality or maybe vitamins.
Happily, Caan provides a little oomph. And so does Farmiga, who here tries hard to pretend that her attractive character might be facing a loveless future in Buffalo and is happy to "settle."