Kids Hunt Killer Clown In Creepy Adaptation Of Stephen King Classic
Written by master of suspense, Stephen King, It was the best-selling book in the U.S. during 1986. The riveting page-turner was set in deceptively-serene Derry, Maine, where a sadistic clown living underground in the sewers disrupted the peace of the picturesque city by preying primarily on children.
In 1990, King’s 1,184-page opus was turned into an Emmy-winning mini-series starring Tim Curry in the title role of It, better known as Pennywise. Now, the novel has been fairly-faithfully adapted to the big screen with Bill Skarsgard playing the demonic harlequin.
As the film unfolds in the fall of 1988, we find 11-year-old Bill Denbrough (Jaeden Lieberher) busy building a small sailboat for his little brother, George (Jackson Robert Scott). One can’t help but notice a pair of observing eyes glowing ominously from a darkened corner of the spacious basement.
Then, during a heavy downpour, a grateful George launches his new toy in the freshet flowing along the gutter in front of his house. The “S.S. George” floats to the corner of the block where it is promptly swallowed by the sewer.
When the unsuspecting kid peers down the storm drain to retrieve it, he is greeted by an ingratiating stranger who playfully introduces himself as Pennywise, the Dancing Clown. After being promised a balloon, popcorn and the return of his boat, George lets his guard down long enough to be dragged into the sewer, leaving behind only a blood-stained street.
Fast-forward to the last day of the school year. Still-grieving, Bill is now the leader of the Losers Club, a motley crew of social outcasts who decide to spend their summer vacation solving George’s mysterious disappearance. Of course, they have no idea they’re up against a formidable foe in the elusive, shape-shifting Pennywise.
Instead of apprehending the perpetrator, the body count merely continues to rise as other names are added to the missing persons list. Eerie atmospherics, a talented ensemble of adolescent actors and the creepiest clown since Heath Ledger’s Joker combine to create a macabre masterpiece that will continue to haunt you long after you leave the theater.
I can’t pass a sewer anymore without half-expecting Pennywise’s frightening face to appear!
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for violence, profanity and bloody images
Running Time: 135 minutes
Production Studio: New Line Cinema
Distributor: Warner Brothers Pictures
Middle-Aged Mom Dates Younger Man In Midlife Crisis Comedy
After separating from her husband, Austen (Michael Sheen), Alice Kinney decides to move from Manhattan to L.A. with her two young daughters, Rosie (Eden Grace Redfield) and Isabel (Lola Flanery). Although her dad has passed away, the return to the house she grew in is a no-brainer, since the girls will have a chance to live in the lap of luxury while being pampered by their doting grandma, Lillian (Candice Bergen).
Alice’s late father was apparently a far better film director than spouse, considering how his embittered widow still complains about his philandering and smugly delights in his demise, saying, “He’s gone now, so I won!” Nevertheless, the sprawling mansion the legendary icon provided does have a storeroom stuffed with Oscars, movie posters and other memorabilia from his enviable Hollywood career.
Soon after arriving, Rosie and Isabel become terribly homesick. That’s not the case with their suddenly-single mom, who heads to a pick-up bar to celebrate her 40th birthday with a couple of long-lost BFFs. Next thing you know, the hot-to-trot cougars find themselves sharing drinks with a trio of fledgling filmmakers in their twenties, one of whom, Harry (Pico Alexander), is instantly smitten with Alice.
Selfishly, she not only takes all three home with her, but enjoys an ill-advised, one-night stand with her ardent admirer. This only serves to confuse curious Rosie, who asks some tough questions the next morning (“How did you meet?” “Did you have a sleepover?) when she discovers her mother in bed with a stranger.
The farfetched premise plot further tests credulity when Granny Lillian, instead of objecting to the young men’s presence, invites them to move into the guest house upon learning that they’re almost broke and struggling to make it in showbiz. Not long thereafter, wouldn’t you know that Austen might arrive from New York unannounced, hoping to reconcile with his estranged ex?
Thus unfolds Home Again, a zany romantic romp written and directed by Hallie Meyers-Shyer. She makes an impressive debut, here, with a tasteful love triangle storyline reminiscent of Something’s Gotta Give (2003) and It’s Complicated (2009). Hallie didn’t have to look far for inspiration, as both of those hit pictures were written and directed by her Oscar-nominated mom, Nancy Meyers (for Private Benjamin).
Finally, a relatively-sophisticated, female-centric comedy revolving around romance rather than raunch. What a refreshing treat!
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for sexuality and mature themes
Running Time: 97 minutes
Production Studio: Black Bicycle Entertainment
Distributor: Open Road Films
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening September 15, 2017
BIG BUDGET FILMS
American Assassin (R for torture, profanity, brief nudity and pervasive graphic violence) Revenge thriller about a 23-year-old (Dylan O’Brien) grieving a fiancée killed in a terrorist attack who is recruited by the CIA’s Deputy Director (Sanaa Lathan) and teamed with a veteran agent (Michael Keaton) to apprehend a mysterious madman (Taylor Kitsch) trying to start World War III. With Charlotte Vega, Chris Webster and Buster Reeves.
Brad’s Status (R for profanity) Ben Stiller plays the title character in this midlife crisis comedy as a man who finds himself reevaluating his career choices when he accompanies his college-bound son (Austin Abrams) on a tour of schools in the Boston area. Supporting cast includes Michael Sheen, Jenna Fischer, Luke Wilson and Jemaine Clement.
Mother! (R for sexuality, nudity, profanity and disturbing violence) Oscar-nominee Darren Aronofsky (for Black Swan) wrote and directed this suspense thriller about a couple (Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem) whose domestic tranquility is disrupted after they allow some uninvited guests (Ed Harris & Michelle Pfeiffer) crash in their country home. With Brian Gleeson, Domhnall Gleeson and Amanda Chiu.
INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS
Dayveon (Unrated) Devin Blackmon plays the titular character in this coming-of-age saga, set in rural Arkansas, about a 13-year-old, African-American orphan who joins a gang in the wake of his big brother’s death, when his sister (Chastity Moore) and her boyfriend (Dontrell Bright) can no longer afford to raise him. Cast includes Kordell Johnson, Marquell Manning and Shavidee Trotter.
Extraordinary Ordinary People (Unrated) Cultural documentary crisscrossing the country to chronicle the work of winners of America’s National Heritage Fellowships which are awarded annually to musicians, dancers, craftsmen and assorted other fine and folk artists.
In Search of Fellini (R for nudity, sexuality and profanity) Fact-based docu-drama about an ardent Fellini fan (Ksenia Solo) who embarks on a trip from Ohio to Italy with hopes of meeting the legendary film director. With Mary Bello, Mary Lynn Rajskub and Nancy Cartwright (the voice of Bart Simpson).
Rat Film (Unrated) Theo Anthony wrote, directed and stars in this eye-opening documentary chronicling his frustration with inner-city Baltimore’s rodent infestation.
Rebel in the Rye (PG-13 for profanity, sexual references, smoking and brief violence) Nicholas Hoult portrays J.D. Salinger in this reverential biopic about the reclusive author of The Catcher in the Rye. Featuring Zoey Deutch, Kevin Spacey, Hope Davis, Eric Bogosian and Sarah Paulson.
Red Trees (Unrated) Marina Willer (Cartas da Mae) directed this Holocaust documentary exploring why her father’s was one of the dozen Jewish families to survive the Nazi occupation of Prague during World War II.
The Show (R for violence, pervasive profanity and brief drug use) Veteran thespian Giancarlo Esposito (The Usual Suspects) directs and co-stars in this disturbing drama about a reality-TV series whose contestants are encouraged to commit suicide for the sake of ratings and entertainment. Featuring Famke Janssen, Josh Duhamel and Sarah Wayne Callies.
Vengeance: A Love Story (Unrated) Nicolas Cage stars in this action thriller as a Gulf War vet-turned-vigilante who hunts down the creeps that gang-raped a single-mom (Anna Hutchison) right in front of her young daughter (Talitha Eliana Bateman) on the 4th of July. With Don Johnson, Charlene Tilton and Deborah Kara Unger.
Wetlands (Unrated) Ensemble drama about a disgraced detective (Adewale Akinnuoye Agbaje) who finds himself reassigned from Philadelphia to the shore where he gets a shot at redemption when a hurricane bears down on the region. Co-starring Heather Graham, Christopher McDonald and Jennifer Ehle.
The Wilde Wedding (R for profanity, sexuality and drug use) Romantic comedy revolving around a retired film star (Glenn Close) about to tie the knot for the fourth time, after a whirlwind courtship with a renowned British writer (Patrick Stewart). Supporting cast includes John Malkovich, Minnie Driver and Grace Van Patten.