I just came from the 7 o’clock showing of IT, and I almost don’t know where to start. I’ve been waiting for this movie since they announced it way back before even Cary Fukunaga was attached to direct. If you’ve read any of my blog, you might already know I’ve been a fan of Stephen King’s It (1990) since it came out when I was 5. Tim Curry’s Pennywise has forever earned a place in my heart.
So what did I think about the reboot?
There were so many ways to go about this movie that, while I was excited, I was also worried that someone would butcher it. Yes, the 1990 TV miniseries was a little cheesy with it’s extremely era-specific thumping horror beat and somewhat off-putting acting (IMHO) from the adult “Losers,” but I still loved it for what it was and for bringing so many of the scenes from the book straight to the screen.
This movie took a different path, keeping the spirit of the book while updating it for a new audience. It might not have been scene-for-scene from the book or even close to that, but the changes they made were actually things that made since.
WARNING: HERE BE SPOILERS
- The Setting: This adaptation set the young losers in 1989 instead of 1958. I really enjoyed this aspect of it because as someone born in the 80s, this helped me relate more to the characters and time. It also kept it interesting for the original TV miniseries audience because it gave us a different spin. The book itself came out in 1986, so the 50s to 80s settings made perfect sense when the TV movie was first made. If they did that here, it would have felt stale.
- The Monsters: Everyone who knows It, whether from reading the book or just seeing the 1990 movie, knows the titular character turns into whatever scares you to get the most fear for its feast. That being said, the monsters used to scare the kids were much different from the source material to capture the tone of the time. After all, how many kids are just straight-up scared of teen werewolves and mummies in this day and age? Instead, we were given zombies, headless ghosts, and a sorta cameo from another Andres Muschietti movie (cough*spoiler*cough*Mama*). I thought this was a smart choice because they were definitely scarier than any werewolf in a letterman jacket could ever be.
- The Characters: Although essentially the same, some of the characters themselves got a bit of an update in terms of their origins, which were a little different but for good reasons that made sense within the scope of the movie. I didn’t care that Mike was being raised by his grandfather instead of his parents on a vegetable farm or that Bev’s mom was missing from the picture. It worked in the story and gave us a little fodder for some of the creepier/unsettling moments.
- The Interactions: Since the time period was updated, the interactions between the characters were updated to match. I really enjoyed all the snarky jokes between friends and less wholesome overtones than that of the original. I did not expect to laugh as much as I did, but all the mom jokes and name-calling really cracked me up.
- The Rating: Being a made-for-tv movie in 1990, there wasn’t a lot of gore and swearing they could get away with back then. Well, with it’s R rating, we’re treated to a whole different ball game with this movie. The kids cussed like sailors through the whole thing (which I very much enjoyed), and they were actually able to bring some of Pennywise’s nastier kills to the big screen. My favorite addition because of this: THEY SHOWED GEORGIE’S ARM GETTING RIPPED OFF. That made my day, not because I enjoy seeing children getting eaten (for the record, I totes don’t), but because it was just how I imagined it should be and made me realize the direction the rest of the movie would take in terms of gore. Talk about a good set-up.
Those are the major differences between the book/1990 movie and this new adaptation, and I think they really were thoughtfully done and made so much sense with what they did with the movie. In addition to these differences, another way this movie separates itself from the 1990 version was by actually bringing things in from the book that were skipped over in the tv movie: the house on Neibolt Street, the leper, and the Paul Bunyan statue to name a few.
And, speaking of that last thing, I’m really interested to see if they tackle adult Richie’s Paul Bunyan scene in Part 2.
Now, let’s talk acting. I’d heard than Finn Wolfhard stole the show, and let me tell you: he got skills, son. His delivery of Richie Tozier’s motor mouth was fantastic and hilarious. Jaeden Lieberher as young Bill Denbrough was so engaging in dealing with the loss of his brother and his desire to bring down It, and Jack Dylan Grazer’s portrayal as hypochondriac and chronic worrier Eddie Kaspbrak was both funny and realistic. Really, everyone in the ‘Loser’s Club’ did a great job in this movie.
As for Pennywise…?
Bill Skarsgard killed it. No pun intended.
It’s hard for me to say he even got close to being as good as Tim Curry, but *ahem* he got pretty close. His goofy voice, creepy laugh, and dead eyes just brought the character to life in a very different way. I was really happy he made Pennywise his own instead of trying to copy Curry’s performance because I think that would have fallen a little flat. And I’ve got to give some credit to Muschietti for this, too, because he really made Pennywise a more dynamic character on screen. He definitely drove the more terror-filled moments on screen.
I could go on and on, but I’m going to stop here. If you couldn’t tell, I totally recommend this movie. Go see it tomorrow night or this weekend. Or both. I might.