The story finds homework-dodging Henry (Theo Stevenson) at odds with intimidating Scottish teacher Miss Battle-Axe (Huston) as he mounts a bid to win a talent contest with his band. There's also villainy afoot as an evil headmaster at a rival school (Grant) plots to shut down Henry's school so that he can funnel all the adrift kids into his classrooms. It's down to Henry to save the day and rescue his school from oblivion by winning a Dick & Dom-hosted TV game show Too Cool for School. It's a surreal detour for the movie, and perhaps the only thing mildly interesting in the whole endeavour - a crazy, creepy Clockwork Orange-infused madness with the two blokes from da Bungalow who used to yell about bogies.
Some fidgety direction from Nick Moore means that the movie never lends its protagonists enough screen time to establish depth of personality. Despite the use of 3D to visualise the world of Horrid Henry, the characters barely stretch beyond one dimension. They're predictable stereotypes painted in broad brushstrokes and left to mug for the camera, something even Oscar winner Huston can't spin into gold. In fact, the producers may well have blown most of their budget in recruiting the former Morticia Addams. Henry is riddled with wonky, garish primary-coloured sets that wouldn't look out of place on a Saturday morning kids' TV show.
Girls Aloud's Kimberley Walsh makes an inauspicious movie debut, spending most of her time carrying a baby that projectile vomits all over the place, while the once prolific tweeter David Schneider plays a P.E. teacher on the receiving end of plenty of physical misfortune. Horrid Henry's spewing, splatting and gunge attacks may be designed to impress the youngest of viewers, but this reviewer attended a preview screening in which the dropping of a pin could be heard during many of the slapstick sequences.
Horrid Henry: The Movie clearly isn't designed as high art - you could argue it doesn't have to be - but this is complete agony to sit through and with a lead character as snotty and unlikeable as Henry it's one to steer clear of. So abysmal, it's verging on Fred territory.