Billed as a "punk-rock comedy war epic in iambic pentameter" (you're advised to read that several times before continuing), HENRY X manages to be a good deal less entertaining than it's supposed to be, though I'm sure everyone involved had a lot of fun making it.Before the screening, one of the actors briefly addressed the audience and promised a movie the likes of which no one has ever seen before. Boy, he sure got that right. The madness of HENRY X (as in "Henry the Tenth") kicks in early: the actors, you note with a mixture of awe and terror, speak in rhyme. It's a cute gimmick--but that's the problem: the film never rises above clever artifice. I'm almost certain this thing looked better on paper than it does on the screen; visually, it's rather dead. The film was shot on video, and it has that fatal home-movie look; you're continually aware that what you're seeing is likely just a bunch of bright Drama Club students horsing around with a camcorder.
Gimmick movies like this tend to wear out their welcome early, as does HENRY X. The rhymed dialogue, bearing as it does very little resemblance to ordinary human speech, is awfully tough to follow, and I freely confess that I'd have serious problems summarizing the plot coherently; a lot of the time I wasn't sure what was happening. The needlessly large cast creates further problems: If you're going to go for epic, you need to know how to maintain dramatic focus; the film is so busy it reminds one of an anthill caught in the rain, figures scurrying madly all over the place. That said, the rhymed dialogue generates solid laughs here and there, and the mock music video that pops up out of nowhere is probably the funniest thing in the movie. But HENRY X is exhausting to watch. It feels hellishly overlong; I'd advise the directors to make generous cuts.I have to say, however, that this is probably the finest example of the punk-rock comedy war epic whatever-the-hell-it-was I've ever seen.