Mr. Harrigan’s Phone Parent Guide
Donald Sutherland is worth the price of admission in this low-key, creepy little film.
Parent Movie Review
Living in small-town Maine provides very little opportunity for Craig (Jaeden Martell), and the death of his mother has done little to improve his prospects. Until, that is, he meets the enigmatic and fabulously wealthy Mr. Harrigan (Donald Sutherland), who offers him a reasonable sum of money to read books to him, three days a week. Although Craig is a little wary of the old man, he soon comes to enjoy the books and the visits. Mr. Harrigan isn’t warm or friendly, but he is very interesting – and a bit peculiar.
The elderly man is morally opposed to cell phones, but he quickly changes his mind when Craig buys him one and shows him how to read the papers and, more importantly, access real-time stock market information. Given his age, Mr. Harrigan’s fun is short-lived: it’s no great surprise to anyone but Craig when he’s found dead. At the funeral, Craig slips Mr. Harrigan’s phone into the casket as a final gift…but then he starts getting texts from that number.
This is an unusual situation for me to be in: I’m reviewing a film based on a Stephen King story which I haven’t read yet. In my defense, the man is incredibly prolific, and it’s almost a full-time job to keep up with his output. So, for once, you’ll be spared my griping about faithfulness to source material and the desecration of books that I like.
Mr. Harrigan’s Phone isn’t a particularly inspired film – if anything, it feels like a two-hour episode of Goosebumps – but I actually like that. I’m a big fan of subtly creepy flicks. I like the building atmosphere and unsettling ideas more than in-your-face gore. This movie is all about ideas: hardly anything unsettling, frightening, or disturbing is conveyed visually. Even if the story’s not all that original, I think it’s a good vibe for some fall fun.
This production is even suitable for teen audiences, with so much of the action happening off-screen. If your teenager can handle seeing a dead body, hearing about suicides, and a little bit of cussing, they’ll be just fine. I’m not going to pretend there’s some important moral lesson here, apart from “Don’t talk to the dead unless you’re prepared for an answer”, but that’s not the point of the film. This is a mildly spooky little distraction, harmless entertainment for entertainment’s sake. It’s certainly not perfect – the pacing has a bit of a hitch in its giddy-up, and some of the child actors are a little rough – but for me, it’s worth the price of admission just to see Donald Sutherland being old, curmudgeonly, and enigmatic.Directed by John Lee Hancock. Starring Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Donald Sutherland, Jaeden Martell. Running time: 104 minutes. Theatrical release October 5, 2022. Updated October 5, 2022
Watch the trailer for Mr. Harrigan’s Phone
Mr. Harrigan’s Phone
Rating & Content Info
Why is Mr. Harrigan’s Phone rated PG-13? Mr. Harrigan’s Phone is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for thematic material, some strong language, violent content and brief drug material.
Violence: A number of dead bodies are seen. A person is punched repeatedly. There are references to suicide. Characters are killed in a collision involving a drunk driver.
Sexual Content: None.
Profanity: There are four scatological curses, one sexual expletive, and occasional mild curses and terms of deity in the script.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A teenager is briefly shown handing drugs to another.
Page last updated October 5, 2022
Mr. Harrigan’s Phone Parents' Guide
Why does Mr. Harrigan object to cell phones? What changes his mind? Do you see any downsides to the prevalence of cell phones? How do you think your life might be different without one? How would society change if we didn’t have them?
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Jaeden Martell previously starred in the most recent adaptation of Stephen King’s It. Other King adaptations that manage to be worth watching include The Shining, Doctor Sleep, the 1989 adaptation of Pet Sematary, The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption, 1408, Misery, and Stand by Me. Some of the worst adaptations include Firestarter, the 2019 adaptation of Pet Sematary, and The Dark Tower. King’s son, Joe Hill, is also a novelist, and his work has been adapted for the screen in Horns and The Black Phone.