The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. (L-R) Benedict Cumberbatch as Henry Sugar and Ralph Fiennes as the policeman in The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. Cr. Netflix ©2023

REVIEW: ‘The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar’ Is Wes Anderson’s Reminder to Us All To Be Kind

5/5 moving set pieces.

The world of Wes Anderson is one that I often wish I could live in. Vibrant, beautiful, and pastel mixed with a lesson of love or loss, it is a place I love very much. I have now, in my 30-some-odd years, have seen everything he’s made. Somehow it is still not enough. Watching The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, I realized quickly that he could make a million short films based on the stories of Roald Dahl and I’d take those lessons into my daily life and remember every word taught to me. That’s how powerful and beautiful the combination of Dahl and Anderson really is.

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When news broke that Anderson was going to tackle the short stories, it felt like a perfect pair. And we were all right to think that. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar marks the first of four short films that Anderson has made of Dahl’s work and it is a story of what happens when you realize that having everything means nothing if you don’t do anything good with it.

Painted within that beautiful Anderson silhouette and hue, the short film is animated, quick, and hilarious all masquerading behind the wit of Dahl’s story. Still, like much of Anderson’s work and what we’ve come to know of Dahl’s stories, the ending leaves you breathless and with a lesson that will stay with you—one that we all should remember, no matter what age we come to Henry Sugar’s tale.

It doesn’t take years of training to be kind

The story is told through each character telling their own tales. When Henry finds a small book in a study, he learns of the abilities of Imdad Khan (Ben Kingsley)—a man who can see without using his eyes. When Henry discovers this ability, he dedicates three years of his life to learning how to see through the back of cards so that he can go to the casino and win at blackjack.

A story that could have quickly been about greed and success and the folly of men is instead about one man realizing that he gave himself a gift that can help others. It hits emotionally and left me sitting in a screening room on the verge of tears when the story, meant for children, reminded me that this world isn’t just about working non-stop to keep myself afloat. It’s about helping others and trying to be the best person for everyone around you.

Dev Patel, Ben Kingsley, and Richard Ayoade in Wes Anderson's 'The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar'
(Netflix)

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar is the start of Anderson’s dive into the world of Roald Dahl, and already, this is a perfect mashup of storytellers. Beautiful and poignant, this is such a brilliant way to bring these short stories to life.

(featured image: Netflix)


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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.