Mr. Harrigan’s Phone is a tale of two films. This one, for the first half, is an interesting snapshot of the world being introduced to new technology and what it meant to young and old people. The second half is a meandering supernatural thriller that wastes the more interesting first half. As it stands, it is an uneven Stephen King adaptation.
Mr. Harrigan’s Phone Is A Perfect Fall Day Watch
Our story centers on Craig (Jaeden Martell), a high schooler who has been reading books three times a week to eccentric billionaire John Harrigan (Donald Sutherland) since he was a young boy. He also teaches Mr. Harrigan to use a new iPhone, which has been all the rage since they were just released. One day when coming to read, Craig finds a deceased Mr. Harrigan in his study. After the funeral, he continues to call Mr. Harrigan’s Phone and send him texts to help cope with his grief. Much to his surprise, the phone answers back, leading to a string of events threatening to send Craig over the edge, unable to return.
The whole film hinges on the relationship between Craig and John, and thankfully, the two work really well together. Martell, no stranger to King as he also starred in IT Chapters One and Two, does a great job as a young man trying to find out who he is and what his place in the world might be now that he is a young man, and Sutherland plays John with a sister charm that makes you unsure about his real intentions right up until he passes away. If the whole film was about these two debating messages in classic novels, it would have stayed strong throughout.
This is a King adaptation, though, and Mr. Harrigan’s Phone has some supernatural elements that end up making the second half of the film feel half-baked and give us hamfisted messages about our societies reliance on cell phones and that it is wrong to wish ill will on people. John Lee Hancock, much like his last film The Little Things, does a great job setting all the pieces in place, but when it comes time to move them across the board, he stumbles. The second half takes an eternity to say very little and then just abruptly ends, with little consequence.
Still, the scenes of a 2007 high school being taken over by the iPhone and the cultural impact that had are endlessly interesting to watch unfold, and the relationship between the two leads is charming. It is a shame the fun factor dies along with Mr. Harrington.
The film is now streamable on Netflix.
Mr. Harrigan’s Phone
Review by Jeremy Konrad
Sadly, Mr. harrigan’s Phone is one of the more uneven Stephen King adaptations of recent years, wasting strong leads and a interesting first half.