Movie Review – “IT”

I have been a huge Stephen King fan for as long as I have been reading novels, but IT was the one that I intentionally avoided, because, y’know, clowns. Upon seeing the trailer for the upcoming film I decided that I would finally delve in and face my fears.

What I’m trying to get at is- I’m that “read the book first” asshole.

IT- the novel- really touched my heart. I became obsessed with how it made me feel to read it. It was a great surprise to find out that it is not only a story about harrowing levels of fear and horror in both the supernatural and natural sense, but it is a story about the romance, beauty and purity of young friendship. The spiritual connection between the “Losers Club” throughout as they deal with the pain in their own lives, as well as this haunting entity that is consuming their town is the primary focus of the story. I have never been on an emotional ride quite like it.

So, I went into “IT” with a blend of emotions that I normally don’t bring into my cinematic life- excitement and complete and utter fear. I don’t watch horror movies. I don’t like to be scared. I HATE gore. Despite all of that, I was seduced by the idea of letting this movie funnel through my system, almost like a cleansing experience for my fragile soul. There was a very good chance that I would walk away traumatized.

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IT was incredibly respectful and faithful to its source material in many ways, from the underlying themes, the makeup of its characters, and the childlike sense of humor and fear alike. The kids are charismatic (every actor is AMAZING), emotional and hilarious, the cinematography is gorgeous and very representative of the time period, and Pennywise was, well, terrifying. I was slightly less than sober as a security measure, but I was honestly scared at a level that I haven’t been in a long time. I was fucking scared, okay!? IT and actor Bill Skarsgard capture the oddball, creepy style of Pennywise that Stephen King created while perfectly conveying how terrifying the shape shifting demon truly is.

It appeared that many of the effects used in the film were practical, which really added to the retro feel and gave a lot more realism to the horror, creating visual scares that are a perfect blend of camp and creep. IT is a childs worst nightmares come to life, as it was meant to be.

As for any critique, there was a large volume of content left out from the 1000+ page epic that it drew from, but a huge portion of that material was focused on the psychological and physical violence that happened when IT wasn’t around. It also delved deeply into the forces at work behind the encounters. There was less emphasis on the evil enveloping the town of Derry itself, with more focus on the physical incarnation of its monster. I was surprised that the presence of the bullies of Derry were so dialed back-seeing as Bowers was just as much a villain as IT in the novel, along with Bevs father and Eddie’s mother. Bowers is psychotic and disgustingly racist,like his father, and his constant pursuit of the kids is heart pumping. The rock fight scene, for example, was dealt with in a rather passive way in the film, where it was originally a VERY tense situation-fueled by murderous rage. The storyline involving the bullies was essentially kicked to the curb, so although I was clearly rooting for them, there was little sympathy built up for the hell that these “losers” go through everyday. Though it was never acknowledged outwardly, the courage that compels these kids to take on a monster is meant to come out of their connection to the spiritual forces behind IT. Every action is one that is necessary, because they are being influenced, almost used, and the kids themselves can feel the magic of said forces guiding them through this story.   The strength of their bond comes heavily from the time that they spend being there for one another, learning to love one another, building an impenetrable circle by facing the Derry monster head on to learn more about it. That element was missing in many ways, but their actions spoke to these ideas.

Despite the absence of alot of material crucial  to the makeup of IT, the pacing of the film was thoughtfully structured to fit in everything that they intended to, and I feel that they effectively wound the story to their will. There was rarely a dull moment.

Now I can only hope that the next installment (or installments?) are just as satisfying. I presume that they will involve more of the missing elements in the coming chapters, like the specifics about what IT is. The ending seems to lend itself to the idea that we are not supposed to understand what IT is at this point, or what IT wants- only what IT is capable of.

All said and done, the one thought that continued to dance through my head as I was shaking and closing my eyes was simply “this is perfect”-and it was, for me. I wanted to see IT, and I did. I felt all of the emotions that I felt while reading it, and I loved it all the more for taking me back into that head space. It felt like something from Stephen Kings mind.

This sounds so bizarre coming from me, but I loved a movie about a killer clown. Now I just need a few days to be able to fall asleep again.

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Why’Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ is the Modern Day Seinfeld

When I first started watching ‘Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ I had a tough time marathon watching a show so loud, so obnoxious, and so ripe with vial personalities. As time went on and the show gained more confidence-I began to see what all the fuss was about. I felt a familiar and comforting edge to this wacky production.

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‘Its Always Sunny’ is well loved for its obtuse and often self contained episodes, its cast of top shelf narcissists and its expert ability to make something from a show that is really about nothing. Sound familiar?

The show centers on a group of friends- Dee and Dennis Reynolds, Charlie Kelly and Mac- “running” an irish pub in Philadelphia with the help of their eccentric patriarch and financier- Frank. Imagine if the gang from Seinfeld had children and those children decided to wallow in their despicable, drunken laziness together for the rest of their adult lives.

The Seinfeld comparison doesn’t stop there either. Its not such a far stretch to compare the deranged Danny Devito to an aged George Costanza- formerly successful but brought down by his own transgressions. He wants to run the show at all times but he can’t seem to keep himself away from the gang-the only family that he really has. He doesn’t give a damn what anyone else thinks of him or his actions-whether it be his perverted views towards women, his disgusting and dirty lifestyle, or his strange friendship with Charlie.

Dennis-who believes himself to be some kind of lady killing genius- has a definite Jerry-esque quality to the way that he holds himself above his friends. (He might be an actual lady killer, as well. I’m only on season 10 so I don’t know if they’ve confirmed that yet.) In reality, Dennis is arguably the most intelligent one in the gang-but the fact that he knows that makes his dynamic all the more arrogant. He believes that he is capable of mastering anything that he tries, but he is just as lazy and self involved as his friends and therefore his conquests are always a failure.  Although Mac is technically the Jerry Seinfeld of this show, his attempts to be the alpha male are often overpowered.

Mac and Charlie are just…really dumb. So dumb. They are the most dangerous brand of stupidity in which they have no self awareness whatsoever. Granted, Charlie often shows signs of being a genuinely good person, but he is rather psychotic. Mac simply refuses to admit that anything but his beliefs are valid. He is like a living embodiment of a twelve year old internet troll.  Both of these guys could pass for very inflated versions of Costanza-ism from their sheer lack of intelligence to their delusions of grandeur, but I would akin Charlies physical humor and business prowess to Kramer and his high pitched yelling fits to George.

Dee might not have herself together quite as much as Elaine ever did, but she certainly has her flighty and egocentric tendencies. She holds her own amongst the boys, though it is well established that she is their collective punching bag. She suffers from unrealistic expectations in all aspects of her life, assuming that she is deserving of the highest quality of companionship and lifestyle despite the fact that she is a horrible human being herself. Unless you’re hot and rich, you are not spongeworthy. Though she often has storylines that would only be possible because she is a woman, over time she has been given more and more content to play with on the show. In fact, I would argue that she has done some of the most risky material. I can see Kaitlin Olsen herself going down the path of Julia Louis-Dreyfus in her future. Shes that good.

The gang spends every episode ruining the lives of the people around them- as the Seinfeld crew did with their romantic partners, business owners and friends. What really drives ‘Its Always Sunny’ into overdrive is the simple fact that its main characters have absolutely nothing to lose but their false senses of pride. Everyone (aside from Kramer) was regularly employed in fairly serious jobs in the Seinfeld gang, so the most dire of consequences normally centered around their employment. The ‘Sunny’ gang own very little aside from their pub- which they never actually seem to be working in- and it is still unclear how any of them have money at all. The stakes are low and there is very little to lose- making the obscene nature of the show completely plausible.

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While Seinfeld touched on subjects like abortion, masturbation, birth control and the many facets of sex- ‘Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ has taken this cue and run it into the extreme. We’ve seen at least two characters in blackface, we’ve seen Dee have a baby for a transgender woman who Mac was in love with and still might be, and we’ve seen Frank and Dennis both have sex with the drug addicted waitress that Charlie obsessively stalks. Mac is homophobic but is quite possibly very gay. Dee dated and then dumped an army veteran. Everything that most shows might be afraid to approach- they knock you over the head with it-and it works. It is without fear. The same could have been said for Seinfeld in its time. It was edgy, a little silly and a portrait of white people problems.

All of this is pulled off by a cast and crew of amazing writers and improvisational wizards. If you’re not already watching it, get on it.