Monday, December 23, 2019

"It: Chapter 2": two-paragraph review

[NB: spoilers, but I don't care.]

I've already written of my distaste for both the movie "It" and the Stephen King novel on which it's based. The monster has never made any sense to me, and the movie version of the story was hard to take seriously. The same goes for 2019's "It: Chapter 2," again directed by Andy Muschietti and starring the adult versions of the kiddie cast (although the kids return in flashback in this film, apparently computer de-aged for continuity's sake): Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, Andy Bean, and Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise the marauding alien clown. Whereas the first chapter of the saga took place in 1988, this second chapter takes place 27 years later, in 2015. Our young heroes, the Losers, have all grown up and moved on, barely remembering the traumatic events of '88. Only Mike Hanlon (Mustafa) has remained behind in Derry, Maine, to keep watch, to remember, and to be ready to recall the Losers should the monster return. Return it does, as children once again go missing. Mike summons the Losers, and everyone but Stan Uris (Bean) answers the call: Stan, fearful, has committed suicide, slitting his wrists while in his bathtub. Mike explains to the group that It can be defeated via a Native American ritual called the Ritual of Chud (Chüd, with an umlaut, in the book), but the Losers need to sacrifice an item of personal importance as part of the ritual. The Losers once again head into Derry's dank sewers to do battle with Pennywise, armed with little more than their love for each other and their conviction that Pennywise can be destroyed.

The movie tries hard to be both a comedy and a horror film. Even the musical soundtrack is un-serious, reminding me of nothing so much as the soundtrack from the 80s-era Ghostbusters movies. Bill Hader as grown-up Richie Tozier and James Ransone as the adult Eddie Kaspbrak function as comic relief, but I didn't find either of them all that funny. Maybe it's the audience effect: comedy is funnier when you're in a theater full of laughing people, although that doesn't explain why I usually laugh like a moron on LSD while watching "Rick and Morty" by myself. Pennywise/It once again makes no sense in terms of his abilities and his motives. If he's an alien that lives on fear, who can be defeated through the mere power of imagination and belief, then he should have been eradicated centuries ago. Instead, the Ritual of Chud ends up being useless, and the Losers have to make up another, equally nonsensical strategy on the fly to defeat the monster (spoiler: they resort to name-calling, which somehow shrinks It from a giant spider to a midget-sized clownlet). About the only thing I truly appreciated was a funny callback to John Carpenter's 1982 "The Thing," which featured a scene in which a disembodied head sprouted spider legs and crawled around. The same thing happens in this movie, and a character utters the line "You gotta be fuckin' kidding," which is straight out of "The Thing." That gave me a chuckle. Otherwise, this movie was a real drag to sit through: it was unfunny, un-scary, and illogical; it was also based on one of Stephen King's weakest-ever novels. King (who has a cameo in this movie) is a master storyteller, but even the masters churn out turds now and then, and the novel It was a massive turd that has now spawned two cinematic turds. I'm glad It's over. If you're looking for a good movie about an evil clown, you're better off watching the far superior "Joker."

1 comment:

Ken said...

King himself has referred to It as “a very badly constructed book.”

FYI: check out my book “A Worldview Review of Stephen King’s ‘It’” subtitled “The Mystical, Mysterious, and Metaphysical in the Novel, Miniseries, and Movies.” Cosmology, occultism, Gnosticism, mysticism, Kabbalah—it's all under the big top!