DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Gregori Viens
Henry Phillips, Tig Notaro, JK Simmons, Sarah Silverman
Writing Credits:
Gregori Viens and Henry Phillips

Hapless satirical songwriter Henry Phillips is lured to LA when a veteran TV producer decides to make a show about the life of a loser.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Dolby 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 94 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 4/18/2017

• Deleted Scenes
• Outtakes
• Previews and Trailer


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Punching Henry [Blu-Ray] (2017)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 13, 2017)

An indie comedy with a barbed edge, 2017’s Punching Henry takes a look into aspects of show business. 40-something Henry Phillips (Henry Phillips) plugs away at his career as a comedic songwriter/performer, but he finds it difficult to gain traction.

When TV producer Jay Warren (JK Simmons) hears of this situation, he wants to involve Henry in a program about the life of the struggling entertainer. To participate – and hopefully ignite his dormant career – Henry heads to Los Angeles.

However, matters take a turn when Henry plays a local club and flops after a heckler (Clifton Collins Jr.) harasses him. Jay sees this and decides to shift the focus to turn Henry into the star of a reality series about the woes of a loser. Henry needs to deal with this change of fortune and how it impacts his life and career.

The elephant in Punching’s room comes from the film’s on the nose sense of self-reference. The movie casts Phillips as a fictionalized version of himself and it does so in a manner that seems a bit clever-clever. The decision to mix reality and fiction makes little sense, as I see no reason to blur the lines in this way.

These choices might be more logical – and also forgive various cinematic sins – if Punching embraced the reality show framework in its background. Arguably the biggest problem I find here comes from the movie’s lack of cohesion, as it ambles from one comedic bit to another without much to make these components mesh.

If Punching opted for a faux documentary/reality TV vibe, these bits might work better, but since it ostensibly attempts to tell a “real story”, the result sputters. There’s little actual plot to be found, and it feels like the filmmakers just cobble together random scenes.

Not that Punching doesn’t attempt some form of overall narrative, as it does set up Henry’s arc. Unfortunately, it gives us some of the most awkward, unnatural exposition on record, especially as delivered by an utterly superfluous radio host played by Sarah Silverman. Every so often, the movie grinds to a halt so she and Henry can tell us some aspect of his past, all of which a better-constructed film could’ve told us in a more natural manner.

When Punching doesn’t shove exposition down our throats, it tosses random stabs at comedy our way. The film comes with a surprisingly good cast, and it makes sure it allows each and every one of these folks some form of “star moment”.

This doesn’t work, mainly because it requires the movie’s semblance of a narrative to suddenly halt just to give Actor A or Actor B a few minutes in the spotlight. These bits rarely connect to the overall story, and they feel awkward and unnatural.

The only successful moments of Punching occur when it delves into the world of modern show business. As network programmer Mara, Michaela Watkins delivers a delightfully edgy performance, and her attempts to find a successful niche for Henry’s act manage the movie’s few moments of insight.

Otherwise, we find ourselves stuck with random bits of comedy and a rambling narrative. Punching Henry feels more like an audition reel than an actual movie.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus D

Punching Henry appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a satisfactory presentation.

Overall sharpness seemed solid. A couple of wide shots looked a smidgen soft, but those were the exception to the rule, as the majority of the flick was accurate and detailed. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I noticed no edge haloes. Source flaws were absent, as the movie looked consistently clean.

If one expects a palette other than teal and orange, one will find disappointment, as those hues dominated the film. Within those parameters, the hues were positive. Blacks seemed deep and dark, while shadows showed good smoothness and clarity. I felt happy with the transfer.

As for the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Punching Henry, it lacked a ton of ambition. The soundfield focused on music and ambience, though it opened up on occasion. For instance, nightclub and street scenes became a little more involving. Nothing especially memorable occurred, though.

Audio quality was fine. Speech seemed natural and concise, without edginess or other issues. Music offered good clarity and range, and effects worked well enough. They didn’t have much to do, but they appeared reasonably accurate. All of this ended up as a perfectly satisfactory soundtrack for this sort of movie.

A small smattering of extras fill out the disc, and we find two Deleted Scenes. We see “’Threesome’ Song” (3:32) and “The Folksinger” (1:29). The former gives us an extra performance, while the latter shows some exposition that led to Henry’s TV show. “Song” goes nowhere, but “Folksinger” has a little merit.

Two short outtakes follow: Brendon Walsh Suffers (1:31) and Stupid Joe (1:45). “Walsh” presents additional stunts from that actor, while “Joe” gives us one-liners from the Joe character. Both are mildly interesting at best.

The disc opens with ads for Buster’s Mal Heart, Baked in Brooklyn and Mine. We also get the trailer for Punching.

Despite a lot of talented participants, Punching Henry becomes a tedious, rambling enterprise. The movie feels more like an audition reel for those involved than a coherent narrative. The Blu-ray presents very good picture along with acceptable audio and minor supplements. A few moments of amusement occur here, but the overall package flops.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main