Mr. Harrigan’s Phone

Based on a short story by Stephen King, Mr. Harrigan’s Phone arrived on Netflix and featured two outstanding performances from two notable actors.

First was Jaeden Martell, who has appeared in several films over the years- most notably It Chapter 1. Martell played Craig, a young high school student who spent three days a week reading to an elderly man at his house. That elderly man, Mr. Harrigan, was much more than he seemed and was played by Donald Sutherland.

Craig, out of friendship, bought Mr. Harrigan a smart phone and showed him how to use it. Mr. Harrigan refused the gift at first, but eventually succumb to the benefits of the phone.

When Mr. Harrigan died, Craig tucked his phone in Mr. Harrigan’s coffin. Craig was shocked when he received a text message from Mr. Harrigan after his burial.

This was a strange film. It certainly had two great performances from Sutherland and Martell. Their scenes together in the first half of the movie were the best moments here.

However, the story did not seem to know how it wanted to go. The film seemed to want to a ghost story of some sort, but that did not pick up until later in the film. The connection between Craig and Mr. Harrigan carried the first half of the film and it dropped some hints along the way that perhaps Mr. Harrigan was not the kind hearted old man that he seemed. It is not developed very well because the film took it into a new direction.

That was a commentary on the use of cell phones and how they are able to take over one’s lives. Mr. Harrigan said outright all of the drawbacks for the obsession with phones, but he could not drop the addiction of the phone. It was grasped tightly in his hand when he died.

There were a couple of plot threads that were left dangling that I thought were going to pay off eventually, but did not. There was a plot thread involving a drug dealing high school bully (Cyrus Arnold) which did not fit the themes that the story seemed to be telling.

Though the movie felt as if it was trying to be several different types of genres all crammed into one, the two leading performances are very strong and help to elevate the plot above what’s there. The message about cell phones is a major part of the second half of the film and is not as subtle as it could be. Martell and Sutherland are the reasons to watch this.

3.2 stars

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