Opens at Metro and other theaters, Fri., Aug. 15. Rated PG. 90 minutes.
Henry Poole is dying. Diagnosed with an unspecified fatal disease, Poole (Luke Wilson) retreats into the numbing sunniness of suburban Los Angeles, buying a cruddy house and waiting until his daily diet of doughnuts and liquor eventually does him in. Directed by Mark Pellington (Arlington Road), Henry Poole Is Here tells the uplifting quasi-spiritual tale of how Poole's plan of going out Leaving Las Vegas–style fails, thanks to a beautiful divorcée neighbor (Radha Mitchell) and a mysterious stain on his house that resembles Christ's face and dispenses the occasional miracle. Of all the Frat-Pack collective, Wilson has been the most comfortable playing buttoned-down adults, so while his performance as a despondent atheist who learns to live and love is affecting in a low-key way, it's fun to interpret the soppy Henry as his sincere attempt to confront the post-adolescent male angst that his cinematic buddies usually laugh off. But Pellington applies his message—the necessity of hope—a trifle thickly, treating the Christ image's magical powers with such reverence that you're almost set up to expect an M. Night Shyamalan third-act switcheroo. The film could have used some of the genuine intrigue of Pellington's thrillers to help offset the increasingly doe-eyed narrative.