Henry really is horrible

YOU’VE read the books, watched the cartoon TV series, perhaps even experienced the stage version which premiered at the Lyceum, now see Horrid Henry – The Movie (Cert U).

With each step things have got farther away from the original concept of Francesca Simon’s engaging series of books illustrated by Tony Ross about the scheming rascal contending with overly right-on parents, annoying goody-goody brother and assorted classmates with alliterative names.

The film has bumped this out with a whole host of subsidiary grown ups to provide vehicles for celebrity cameos from the likes of Richard E Grant, Joe Brand, Noel Fielding and Dick and Dom.

Henry (Theo Stevenson) and his Purple Hand Gang perpetrate a series of pranks in front of two school inspectors which threatens the future of Ashdown Primary School and its long-suffering headmistress Miss Oddbod (Rebecca Front). This opens the horrifying prospect of Henry falling into the clutches of local private school head Vic Van Wrinkle (Richard E Grant).

Horrid Henry is filmed in 3D for no particular reason and director Nick Moore has chosen to shoot in glaring primary colours which go with its noisy boisterousness. The real problem is that in the books you have a sneaking admiration for Henry, here he’s plain horrid.

Revered Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli has delicately re-worked the much-loved English children’s classic, The Borrowers, about a family of miniature people living under the floorboards of an old country house, into Arriety (Cert U).

A sickly boy called Sho (voiced by Tom Holland) comes to stay at his great aunt’s house in the country and almost immediately glimpses Arriety (Saoirse Ronan), one of the borrowers – so-called because they scavenge items from the residents.

Arriety ignores the warning of her mother (Olivia Colman) not to befriend Sho because borrowers should not be seen by humans. Sure enough, their existence is revealed and the owner decides to call in exterminators which means only Sho can save the family of borrowers.

The attention to detail is a wonder to behold but the leisurely pace of the narrative may mean that this is a film which might delight adults more than children.

Adam Sandler is one of the producers of Zookeeper (Cert PG) and one wonders if he had last-minute misgivings about taking the title role, one of those curious boy-man characters he has made his forte.

Whatever, it falls to Kevin James to play socially-inept Griffin, the kind-hearted custodian of animals at a New England zoo. Three years after being dumped by mercenary blonde Leslie Bibb – and still pining – he decides to try and win her back.

The animals are all too willing to help, revealing that they all speak English, and proceed to offer inappropriate romantic advice. This is where this anthropomorphic nonsense is at its most unbearable – a shrill babble of celebrity voices - Sylvester Stallone and Cher as lions, Adam Sandler an annoying monkey, Nick Nolte as a morose gorilla and so on.

Everything about this film is depressingly predictable from James’s yawn-inducing pratfalls to his finally getting round to noticing that the adorable Rosario Dawson is really the girl for him.

The latest superhero from the Marvels comic stable to reach the big screen is Captain America: The First Avenger (Cert 12A). The title gives the clue that this is a precursor to next summer’s blockbuster, The Avengers, when he will line up alongside alongside Iron Man, Thor and Hulk.

So here we have the back story of how asthmatic weakling Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) was transformed by a secret Second World War programme to create the ultimate soldier with the original intention of rallying the troops as a fictional character called Captain America. When chum Sebastian Stan is presumed dead behind enemy lines, he joins forces with playboy inventor Dominic Cooper and feisty officer Hayley Atwell to parachute in behind enemy lines to foil crazed Nazi Hugo Weaving and his diabolical Cosmic Cube.