New Line Cinema’s horror thriller “IT,” directed by Andy Muschietti, is based on the hugely popular Stephen King novel of the same name, which has been terrifying readers for decades. When children begin to disappear in the town of Derry, Maine, a group of young kids are faced with their biggest fears when they square off against an evil clown named Pennywise, whose history of murder and violence dates back for centuries.
What We Thought:
If you haven’t seen the original 1990 miniseries IT, you might like this new remake. Unfortunately not only have I seen the original, I own it and enjoy it a lot. So needless to say, I found this latest version to be your standard remake of today. They increased the violence and swearing and lost all the innocence and the heart of the original.
I honestly did want to enjoy this. I love movies with kids who are just kids. I grew up on films like Stand By Me, The Goonies, Monster Squad and with Netflix’s hit Stranger Things, I love the return to kids being kids movies/shows trend of today. Plus this stars Jaeden Lieberher who is my favorite young actor going. He was great in St. Vincent, Midnight Special and The Book of Henry so I had high expectations for this film. And this also stars one of the breakout stars of Stranger Things, Finn Wolfhard, so again, I genuinely wanted to love this.
The young actors aren’t bad. It has most of the characters we expect in a kid based movie. You have the stuttering kid. You have the girl. The chubby kid. The Jewish kid. There’s the wiseass and black kid. It’s not done for political correctness. Not at all actually. It shows how outcasts always seem to find each other especially in a small town. I do think they had too many though. Add in the other characters and you seem to forget about some until they reappear later on.
The story isn’t bad. The story is a lot different than the miniseries, but I kind of like that. The miniseries showed the characters as both kids and adults jumping back and forth to tell the story. This one doesn’t have them as adults at all. This is 100% the kids version and the sequel will tell the older version. Yes, expect a sequel. Not only does the movie leave it open to a sequel, the movie will make a ton of money especially with not much competition for the next few weeks. Expect the follow-up greenlit by the end of the weekend if it isn’t already.
I think my biggest issue with the movie is that it is Rated R and they take full advantage of it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no prude and I LOVE a good slasher flick, but the swearing and amped up violence felt forced. Yes teens cuss around each other, but Wolfhard’s character seemed to drop an F-bomb in every line. Kids swearing at this point doesn’t feel edgy or creative (thanks South Park). Cut 75% of them and I wouldn’t even have noticed that it was a kid swearing.
Then there is the violence. I’m all for hockey masked dudes stabbing people, but again, some of this seemed forced. Stephen King knows how to write young characters amazingly, especially kids who get bullied. That was part of the charm of the TV miniseries, these kids were losers who get picked on. They were outcasts like the rest of us who fought back. These kids are outcasts as well, but the main bully is a full on sociopath with a gun ready to shoot kids. He stabs people and it feels more like a 2017 Anti-bullying campaign than well thought out character.
Although I feel bad the most for Bill Skarsgård. Son of Stellan (Good Will Hunting, Thor), brother of Gustaf (Vikings) and Alexander (True Blood, Tarzan), Bill climbs into a character made legendary by Tim Curry. Pennywise the Dancing Clown has been giving people nightmares for decades and Curry made him iconic. A generation of people grew up hating clowns in part because of Curry’s Pennywise. This latest version relies on CGI and pretty much anyone could have done the role. It’s not necessarily Skarsgard’s fault, it’s just hard to top an icon.
All that being said, IT will be number one at the box office this weekend and could easily stay there till Kingsman: The Golden Circle opens later this month. Others seemed to enjoy it and somehow were scared. I actually found myself bored and looked at my watch a couple of times to see how much longer it had left. It’s not unwatchable or anything, but compared to the original it just didn’t do much for me. But today’s viewer doesn’t know half the movies out are remakes in the first place and they will love this.