Running Time: 135 mins.
Premise: Set in the summer of 1989, a group of self-identified “Losers” tackle bullies, terrible parents, and – even worse – a malevolent force of evil that takes the shape of their worst fears, most typically in the form of Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Bill Skarsgard).
Behind-the-Scenes: Based on Stephen King’s epic novel, which was previously adapted into a well-received two-part miniseries in 1990, with Tim Curry horrifying children everywhere as Pennywise. True Detective’s Cary Fukunaga was originally set to direct but clashed with Warner Bros. over budget and ultimately left the project, though he’s still credited as a co-screenwriter. Mama director Andy Muschetti stepped in as director. This is the first of two films. Now, that It is a certified box office monster (looking at over $100M in its opening weekend), we can definitely expect Chapter Two in the next couple of years. Start casting the adult version of the “Losers.”
The Good: This is a hugely successful King adaptation. The author is so prolific and so many of his books have been adapted into terrible movies. It bucks that trend and quickly establishes itself as one of the best adaptations to date. By focusing on the kids, and capturing some of that Stand By Me/Stranger Things aesthetic, the story engages the viewer even when there are no scares to be had. Don’t worry though – there are plenty of scares, but this is more of a fun horror thrill ride than an intense, sweaty frightfest. Muschetti leans into the R-rating, and it’s refreshing to see all these kids behave like real kids and curse up a storm. There are some truly disturbing images here that crawl under your skin, and the movie does a terrific job of capturing the fears of children. The young cast is great, and Skarsgard makes for a brilliantly entertaining Pennywise. Credit to the costume and makeup people too – Pennywise looks awesome.
The Bad: The script is not as cohesive or clean as it should be. Many scenes don’t feel connected to one another and have an episodic quality to them – just one elaborate fright sequence after another. Hardcore horror movie buffs may not find the movie as scary as others will.
Should You See It?: Yes. I had a great time with It. After a barren August in theaters, this movie is a godsend.
Star Rating: **** out of 5 stars.
Better Than: It (1990), The Dark Tower, The Green Mile
Worse Than: Stand By Me, Misery
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