It (2017)

Our relationship - mine and yours - is important to me.  I value your thoughts.  I mean, they aren't nearly as precious as my thoughts (natch), but you serve a role.  No, I'm dicking around, but for this review to work, you need to know my thoughts on 1990's It.  As a wee lad, I loved it.  Strangely, Pennywise didn't scare me, but Tim Curry's priceless performance intrigued the shit out of me.  Curry (the actor, not the Indian dish) nailed every single project he attached himself to, especially It.  It always dumbfounded me how he was able to switch from whimsical to fearsome on a dime.  He disappeared behind the maquillage.

As a somewhat larger, slightly more mature lad, I regard It as a fun, yet deeply flawed skiff of nostalgia.  The second half really falls apart, doesn't it?  You can say what you want about what should or shouldn't have been excised from the novel, but that wouldn't begin to fix the overly maudlin script, much less the exaggerated acting.  If I'm ever in the mood to watch the It miniseries, I usually stick to the first half.  2017's It?  It's almost long enough to be aired as a miniseries.  Perhaps a touch too long, but the final verdict is positive. I'm mostly happy with it (y'know, It).

Good Lord, where do I start?  Let's go straight to the cast, docked by a troupe of child actors perceptive beyond their years.  Finn Wolfhard (coolest name ever) steals every non-Pennywise scene and gets the opportunity to play someone completely different from Mike Wheeler, his character from the excellent Stranger Things.  To be specific, he plays Richie, the insouciant wisecracker plagued with coulrophobia (a fear of - you guessed it - clowns).  His dialogue is sharp, but he isn't the main character.  That would be Bill, as rendered by Jaeden Lieberher.  The kid is immediately sympathetic, and you want him to win.  Everything.  That includes Beverly!

Sophia Lillis is adorable and nuanced as the female Loser.  There is one weighty drawback, though.  Did we really need to see the notorious orgy from the book?  And in such graphic fashion?  The film's momentum is ditched for FIFTEEN MINUTES while the viewer is forced to watch coral-flush baby fat flop and flap against itself.  To make matters unbecoming, Pennywise watches in the shadows and pulls his pasty pud.  They actually show his...er, its clownhood! Greasepaint prick!  He's a hung harlequin!  Okay, I'll stop now.

Now, that Pennywise.  It's hard not to compare Skarsgard to Curry, so I will.  One performance isn't "better" than the other.  They stand next to each other.  Skarsgard himself idolizes Curry's iteration of the interplanetary gagster (ew) and knew that he couldn't mimic any of Tim's affectations.  Curry's dancing clown was a pinch jocose; Skarsgard's dancing clown has jocose in his marrow (yes, I used an adjective as a noun), but he is a pinch more...sinister? What's the word?  I know.  He's fucking malignant.  Even now, a couple days removed from the screening, I still see his goddamn face.

Some of that is the performance, but some of it is the film's audio terrorism.  Egads.  I'm sorry, but there are too many jump scares, and I saw Carmike's "Big D Experience."  It's similar to IMAX where, like, the movie is in your head.  It doesn't need to resort to cheap tactics to rattle audiences.  A minor animadversion, but it was annoying.  My only other stricture has to do with the swollen running time.  The second trip to Pennywise's hideout felt unnecessary.  Still, I rate 2017's It as vastly superior to 1990's It, which I do fancy.  Both sets of kids are genial and engaging enough.  I'll tell you this much, junior; the book sucks.  I didn't read it.

I read half of it, but that's not the point.  I dig how the script focuses on the bond between the Losers.  It's paced beautifully, as it takes its time bringing these fledglings together.  A few of the kids are neglected, but look, this could have been a trilogy of trilogies.  You can't shoot all 5,903 pages of Stephen King's novel.  Personally, I thought that Andy Muschietti did a bang-up job.  With the exception of the orgy scene.  Line.  Crossed.  Amirite or amirite?

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