Director Wes Anderson adapts his signature style to a simple, straightforward narrative that makes Roald Dahl’s children’s story irresistible to watch. Devoid of objectionable content, THE WONDERFUL STORY OF HENRY SUGAR is simply an uplifting story, told by a master filmmaker, in a family-friendly manner. There is a vague depiction of Eastern meditation practices, but this scene can be a chance for family discussions about what is the right way to develop oneself spiritually and what is not.
Dominant Worldview and Other Worldview Content/Elements:
Strong moral worldview rebukes greed and obsession with worldly possessions and/or money and promotes service to others and generous giving of one’s riches, there are vague discussions of Hindu-like meditative practices, but no references to Hindu theology, doctrine or specific rituals
No foul language
Casual light drinking
Smoking and/or Drug Use and Abuse:
Narrator references smoking cigarettes;
Some scenes are set in casinos where gambling occurs.
THE WONDERFUL STORY OF HENRY SUGAR is a fable about a man who learns that money isn’t everything.
Written, directed, and produced by Wes Anderson, this Roald Dahl adaptation is a story within a story within a story within yet another story. The tale begins with Roald Dahl himself (Ralph Fiennes) narrating the life of Henry Sugar (Benedict Cumberbatch), an avaricious, wealthy man with no care for anyone except himself.
One day, Henry Sugar comes upon a book in a library written by a former war doctor (Dev Patel) about a strange encounter he had with a circus performer (Ben Kingsley) who claimed to be able to see with his eyes closed. The performer was able to look at the back of a playing card and tell almost instantly which card it was he held. Henry Sugar, believing such a trick could make him even more wealthy than he already is, tracks down the yogi who taught the circus performer how to do the trick.
Once Sugar learns the trick, he spends all his time at casinos, using the trick for his own gain, making himself nearly the richest man on Earth. One day, however, completely unfulfilled by his success, he realizes, “I don’t want to be the richest man on Earth.” He spends the rest of his life instead using the trick to fund hospitals and orphanages across the globe.
The tale of Henry Sugar is certainly a “wonderful story.” Director Wes Anderson adapts his signature style to a simple, straightforward narrative that makes Roald Dahl’s children’s story irresistible to watch. Thirty-seven minutes of four actors speaking directly to the camera as if it were a stage play and not a motion picture are made captivating in a way that only Wes Anderson
could. These four performances, from Fiennes, Cumberbatch, Patel, and Kingsley, are superb, each of them capturing the subtleties of the unique narration style with precision.
THE WONDERFUL STORY OF HENRY SUGAR is an excellent introduction to Anderson’s work for young viewers. Devoid of sex, violence or coarse language, it’s simply an uplifting story, told by a master filmmaker, in an accessible, family-friendly manner. There is a vague depiction of Eastern meditation practices in one scene, but this scene can be an opportunity for family discussions about what is the right way to develop oneself spiritually and what is not.
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