IT Movie Review
Written by Karin Crighton
Released by Warner Brothers
Directed by Andy Muschietti
Written by Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, and Gary Dauberman, based on the book by Stephen King
2017, 135 minutes, Rated R
Released on September 8th, 2017
Jaeden Lieberher as Bill Denbrough
Jeremy Ray Taylor as Ben Hanscom
Sophia Lillis as Beverly Marsh
Finn Wolfhard as Richii Tozier
Chosen Jacobs as Mike Hanlon
Jack Dylan Grazer as Eddie Kasbrak
Wyatt Oleff as Stanley Uris
Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise
The “Lucky Seven” are anything but. Bullied, ignored, abused, and abandoned by their own town, a ragged group of fourteen- and fifteen-year-olds find solace in one another during the summer of 1989. Only they’re not alone. Something is coming for them, something that has already taken hundreds of children from their small town of Derry over the years. And IT is very, very close.
I waited until I’d watched this reboot before watching the 1990 miniseries in order to give it a standalone judgement without comparing it to anything else. Thereupon seeing the wholesome quality of the original, I really enjoyed the attempt to make this version more frightening, more horrific, without losing the underlying message that no one is helping the bullied and downtrodden. This movie contains some incredible scenes of Pennywise the deadly clown that were lacking in the original. They are frankly delicious.
And yes, Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise makes this movie. While the credits boast a roster of 22 names for the Makeup Department, pancake foundation isn’t doing that creeptastic acting. His palpable fun in relishing the devilishness is infectious, and despite the agonizingly long run time, I wanted to see more of him on screen.
The child actors are entertaining and play their parts well, but, as child movies tend to do, their roles are compartmentalized into familiar stereotypes. You end up with cookie cutter actors in overly-stylized costumes saying predictable lines. For IT, whenever the director or editor seemed to think the moment needed an “oomph”, an embarrassing orchestral soundtrack swooped in and the camera began to pan over reaction shots to distract the audience. It cheapens the moments that are supposed to be powerful rather than letting the kids just be kids; that would have been enough.
In that vein, the development of Beverly is uncomfortable to watch. Emily Perkins’ 1990 double braids and knit Peter Pan collars are replaced by Sophia Lillis’ lipstick and baby dresses. Gawked at by the boys, including an underwear scene, Beverly as an outcast just doesn’t make sense anymore. The overt sexualization of her may speak a point, but it isn’t made with resolution. Speaking of not making sense, Marlon Taylor’s 1990 narrow shoulders and skinny legs are replaced by barrel-chested Chosen Jacobs playing Michael Hanlon. The kid would’ve been scouted for JV rugby in a heartbeat, he would not have been a target.
It may sound like I didn’t enjoy it, but I did like the direction these writers took. The 1990s’ leaping back and forth grows tiresome. The kids’ storyline is so vivid and rich, the skipping is frustrating. And without needing to weave in adult stories at this time, it frees up screen time for some freaky sh**. There’s a reason the Special Effects team is over 40 people. I stopped counting the Visual Effects names after 55. It found some of the best talent for beautiful art on screen.
I just wish that had made IT scary. Because it isn’t really. It’s still a kids’ movie about facing your fears. And kids’ movies are for kids’; only they can’t see this one because it’s got an R rating.
Therein lies the biggest problem with this movie: if It was any gorier, it would lose its heartwarming thread about friendship and trust. And if they bumped it down to PG-13 gore, it would be boring. It’s stuck in the middle...just like being fourteen.
As an aside, I was able to see this movie in 4DX and I have to strongly discourage seeing it that way. The seats move far too often, even during exterior establishing shots, and it takes you right out of the movie. If you wear glasses, the first thing the damn system does is shoot you in the face with water and leave spots on your lenses. Our theater appeared to be out of whatever scent they were supposed to be firing into the air because I only smelled compressed CO2 and preservatives every time that stupid thing blew on my hair. This is not a technology we needed. The only things movie theaters need is a bar and a bouncer.