On this episode of The Harold & Maudecast's Justice and Doom Now Playing Movie Reviews, Sarah Mason and Jake Essoe review IT.
A new screen adaption of Stephen King's novel "It" has become the unlikely savior of the Summer box office shattering records with a $123m opening weekend. The novel which was originally published in 1986 was first adapted into a television miniseries in 1990.
Set in a small town in Maine in the 1980s, the story follows the interactions of seven children who in addition to being stalked by a bully and his gang, are being hunted by a killer being who appears [mostly] in the form of a clown named Pennywise.
The book weaves in and out of time periods alternating between the children's story and their reunion as adults. In this film it's all about the kids--a narrative choice which seems chosen solely to capitalize off the success of Stranger Things. Unfortunately, this film does not share the same charm and carefully crafted nostalgic atmosphere.
The unknown and underwhelming cast of kids in IT (which does include one of the actors from Strangers Things, Finn Wolfhard), struggles to carry the film when Pennywise is not on the screen. Bill Skarsgård, who takes over the role of Pennywise from Tim Curry (in the 1990 series), gives a career-defining performance. Terrified of clowns or not, it was hard not to crave his presence on screen.
The bond between the kids, the self-named "Losers Club", which is so beautifully developed in the book and the 1990 miniseries, seems thrown in only as necessary for their joint encounters with Pennywise and bully Henry Bowers. DIrector Andrés Muschietti (MAMA) took the helm after Cary Fukunaga (True Detective) left for creative differences. Fukunaga along with Chase Palmer and Gary Dauberman are credited with the script. Can't help but wonder what those creative differences were and if Fukunaga's vision would have been more fulfilling.
A sequel is already in the works which will undoubtedly feature the grown ups. If you have not read the book, love experiencing shared scares, and are NOT hopelessly afraid of clowns you will enjoy seeing IT in the theater. We give IT a 7.2 for Bill Skarsgård's performance and some visually intriguing oh-so scary creatures.
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