‘Mr. Harrigan’s Phone’ Stretches Too Much Out, But Still Makes The Call

For a movie that’s about an elderly man’s phone, Mr. Harrigan’s Phone is a good 20 minutes too long in its length, repeating itself when it’s not necessary. Not to criticize all elderly people who talk on the phone, but this movie based on a novella of the same name by Stephen King, seems the perfect movie for a streaming service like Netflix. This is the third movie for the streaming service to be based on a King novella or short novel in a five-year period.

In the 1980s and 1990s, most of his novels and stories found their way to the big screen, but a few like Cell found their way in Development Hell that by the time filming began, the subject matter was already dated and overdone by other zombie outbreak movies. Then, there’s A Good Marriage, which I thought was well made, but came and went some people probably didn’t even see it. It was the bigger movies like Dr. Sleep and the two IT movies that got more attention.

So, a movie like this starring Jaedan Martell, from both IT movies, is perfect on the streaming service. It’s a smaller movie and tells a smaller more simple tale of terror. Beginning in 2003, Martell plays Craig, a young man in Maine, who becomes acquainted with a crotchety retired businessman, John Harrigan (Donald Sutherland), who is supposed to be very wealthy. Harrigan wants Craig to read to him three times a week for which he’ll be paid.

Over the next five years, the two form a bond and certain type of friendship. And as a gesture of friendship, Harrigan will often give Craig scratch-off lottery tickets. One time around Christmas, Craig gets a $3,000 winner. His father (Joe Tippett) has purchased him an iPhone for Christmas. Craig’s mother died prior to Harrigan talking to his father about the reading arrangement.

As a friendly gesture, Craig decides to use some of the winnings to buy Harrigan a phone, even though the man tells Craig that even though he bought the ticket, all winnings are Craig’s to do as he wishes. Initially reluctant to use a iPhone, Harrigan becomes more interested in it. Then, one day, he passes away. At his wake, Craig, places the iPhone in the coat pocket Harrigan is buried in.

Craig and his father later find out that Harrigan left $800,000 in a trust fund for him as Craig had expressed interest to go to college and become a writer, possibly a movie screenwriter. Everything seems to be great for Craig and his father, but at school, Craig is the target of a bully, Kenny Yanokvich (Cyrus Arnold), who is eventually expelled for being spotted by a school bus driver dealing drugs. It just so happens Craig also spotted him at the same time, so Kenny assaults Craig at a school dance thinking it was Craig who turned him in.

Craig is treated by Ms. Hart (Kirby Howell-Baptiste), a teacher he has a crush on and has gotten close. But he doesn’t say who did it. Instead, he calls Harrigan’s phone to tell him what happened. Previously, when he learned of the trust fund, he called the phone to say thanks, only to get an odd texts from the line. His father chalks it up to a computer glitch.

However, what happens after the second call isn’t a computer glitch. It’s something more sinister. And Craig must wonder is there something going on from beyond the grave. The movie, written for the screen and directed by John Lee Hancock, can’t get over the feeling that it’s more of an R.L. Stine or Christopher Pike story. The story may have worked better for Shudder’s Creepshow anthology series which has done some better work with King’s short stories.

The novella for the collection book If It Bleeds was a simple story. Even though some of his bigger novels can be used to hammer nails and crack open walnuts, King still manages to bang out the smaller stories, which I feel have become some of his better works in the last decade of so. Like I said, the movie is too long especially to have such a simple ending that it does.

That being said, King fans will probably enjoy it. But some other people might find it a little tedious at the time. There’s a few things that could’ve very been left on the cutting room floor. This is like being on a phone call with someone who doesn’t know when to end it.

What do you think? Please comment.

Published by bobbyzane420

I'm an award winning journalist and photographer who covered dozens of homicides and even interviewed President Jimmy Carter on multiple occasions. A back injury in 2011 and other family medical emergencies sidelined my journalism career. But now, I'm doing my own thing, focusing on movies (one of my favorite topics), current events and politics (another favorite topic) and just anything I feel needs to be posted. Thank you for reading.

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