“Kiss Me, Fat Boy!”

Back for more Scary Clown action?

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Here it is . . . the rest of It!

DISCLAIMER:

SERIOUS, MONDO SPOILERS for Part I, Part II, and the book itself. Also, I’m going to compare the miniseries to the book and bitch a LOT. You are forewarned.

SUMMARY:

All of the grown-up Losers — save poor, dead Stan — reunite in Derry to try and kill IT.

NOTES:

1. So, now we’ve come to the less impressive adults. Let’s go ahead and take them one by one, shall we? First, there’s Bill:

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Actually, I don’t have a lot to say about Bill — he’s very boring, and his hair is terrible. Seriously, the ponytail can be a nice look on men, but it’s not for everybody, and that includes Richard Thomas.

While we’re speaking of bad hair, though . . .

2. . . . this is Mike:

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Mike is played by Tim Reid, who’s one of the better adult actors in this miniseries. (Even if he does say “terribly” as “turr-bly.”) Unfortunately, Mike has some gray at his temples, and those gray hairs looks hideously fake. When I joked that the makeup crew were using the two buck spray paint you find in Halloween stores, well, I was really only half-joking.

But I was wrong; it’s not spray paint. Matter of fact, IMDb trivia tells us that the “dye” is actually baby powder applied by a toothbrush. And . . . I know this miniseries probably didn’t have the largest budget in the world or anything, but I find myself expecting TV people to have more resources than, say, my mother, who put flour in my hair when I was twelve and going for a vague Bride of Frankenstein. (I looked awesome, by the way.)

3. Now let’s go to Eddie.

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His hair is okay, I guess.

The changes to his storyline, however? They are not okay. They are bullshit.

Writer Joe: Okay, so about Eddie. He’s the nerd, right? He’s the little weakling of the group who has an asthma attack every six seconds.

Writer Susan: Yup, that’s him. Well, actually he has, like, mental asthma attacks because the disease is all in his mind, but never mind that. What’s wrong with Eddie?

Writer Joe: Well, in the book, Eddie grows up and gets married to a woman that looks and acts a lot like his mother. Just like Bev gets married to a man that acts a lot like her father —

Writer Susan: — and looks like Henry Bowers.

Writer Joe: Exactly right, Writer Susan; he looks like Henry Bowers. And Bill falls in love with a woman who looks a lot like Bev, because apparently there are only twelve models of Cylons in Derry —

Writer Susan: — BSG reference FTW!

Writer Joe: — and also because King is apparently obsessed with Oedipus and Elektra. But anyway, Eddie . . . I just don’t buy that he got married. He’s too much of a geek. Geeks don’t have sex. We all know this. So, I was thinking we could make Eddie a virgin instead. You know. Just to make him more pathetic.

Writer Susan: . . . or maybe we could break away from all the adult virgin stereotypes usually found in movies, you know? Maybe virgins don’t have to be pathetic nerds who live in their mother’s basement or else super religious freaks who think about Jesus every second of their lives. What about it?

Writer Joe: . . . you think?

Writer Susan: God, no, I’m just fucking around.  Eddie should definitely be a pathetic loser. We’ll just spin some bullshit about . . . oh, how he could never have sex with anyone he didn’t love, and how he didn’t love anyone as much as he loved his childhood friends. Something like that.

Writer Joe: . . . course, that means we’ll have to get rid of The Scene.

Writer Susan: What sce . . . oh, That Scene. You know, that’s probably for the best.

Writer Joe: I agree, Writer Susan. I agree.

4. Let’s take a break from the characters for a moment to discuss . . .  That Scene.

{No picture of That Scene is available– not even in stick-figure form — because such a picture would surely get me arrested.}

If you haven’t read the book, you may not know about That Scene. If you have read the book, well, you remember it, right? Back when they’re kids, the Losers get lost in the sewers after they fight IT, and the only way Beverly can save them is to have sex with each and every boy because it will bind them all together forever and show how good of friends they all are and help get them out of the sewers and . . . yeah. Something like that.

I think my cat can speak for anyone who’s ever read this.

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WTF?!

Looking over the scene again  — it is every bit as awkward and horrifying as you might imagine it to be. Not least because it involves lines such as this:

“I know something,” Beverly said in the dark, and to Bill her voice sounded older. “I know because my father told me. I know how to bring us together. And if we’re not together, we’ll never get out.”

AND

“She senses that this is something special for him, something extraordinarily special, something like . . . like flying. She feels powerful; she feels a sense of triumph within her.”

AND

“Show me how to fly.”

And just . . . just other things I don’t particularly feel like typing, like Beverly experiencing orgasm for the first time, or asking each of the boys, “Did you?” even though she doesn’t quite understand what she’s asking. It’s . . . it’s creepy and thoroughly unnecessary. It relies on all kinds of strange rituals and childish beliefs, and for the most part, they all really work for me, but the child sex magic, the “Group of Young Boys Bangs Their One Girl Friend” Ritual? Not so much.

I mostly do my best to forget this scene exists, so good on the miniseries for not including it because, you know. Of course they didn’t.

5. Which brings us to Beverly.

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It’s partially an acting fail and partially a writing fail, but Adult Beverly (Annette O’Toole) is even more annoying than I remembered. She has a couple of okay lines, here or there, but mostly she’s just sort of The Woman, you know? She faints dead away when she sees all the guys for the first time — cause why reverse gender roles for even a second, right?

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Channeling her best Dorothy Gale. Seriously, I’m surprised she didn’t start muttering, “There’s no place like home.”

Admittedly, Beverly is the badass with the slingshot, or is at least supposed to be . . . but she seems to miss an awful lot when it counts. As a kid, she knocks over all ten bottles dead, but when she has to hit Pennywise the clown, she misses . . . and not only is Pennywise standing considerably closer, but as my friend Robyn pointed out, he is a significantly larger target too. Of course, shooting at targets isn’t like shooting guys who are trying to kill you, blah, blah, but she also misses the GIANT FUCKING SPIDER who’s about twenty-five times the size of Pennywise, making her kind of terrible. When your life is depending on it, Beverly cannot actually hit the broad side of a barn.

Also, at one point in the miniseries, Beverly freaks out, demanding, “Why is it doing this? Why does it hate? Why is it so MEAN?”

Die. Just die.

6. I feel a little bad for speaking ill of the dead, particularly the dead who died too young and tragically sudden, but John Ritter easily does the worst acting here.

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He’s just . . . he’s just not good. I’m not sure anyone could have injected personality into Ben when the writing was so bad, but Ritter makes things even worse. His reactions are not particularly great, and some of his line readings are just awful. This is the only dramatic work I’ve ever seen Ritter in, and if this is a true representation of his talent in that regard, it’s probably for the best that he primarily stuck to comedy. Which is okay. Comedy’s hard too. Some people say comedy is harder than drama, and I don’t actually agree with that . . . I think they’re equally hard, and they take a different skill set. Some impossibly lucky bastards can do both . . . but much like the boy ponytail, it’s not for everyone.

7. Which brings us to our last Loser . . . Richie.

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Oh, Richie.

It’s not exactly that Harry Anderson is such a ridiculously bad actor in this — I mean, he’s not good, really, with all his arm-waving and general carpet-chewing, but talent for talent, he’s not the worst in the cast. But unlike the others — who are mostly just leeched of any personality — Richie’s character is fundamentally changed, and not for the better.

See, Richie ought to be likable. He talks way too much for his own good, and he’s making a joke pretty much all the time, but he’s also intelligent, loyal, brave, and kind of charming. The problem here is that this Richie isn’t charming, loyal, or brave at all — he’s just an obnoxious ass who, other than landing maybe one or two lines, isn’t actually funny. It’s one thing to strip a character of all his complexity and transform him into just some typical comic relief. It’s quite another to make a comic relief who’s not funny and an asshole to boot.

See, Young Stan was the group skeptic when the Losers were kids, but now that Stan is dead, Richie seems to have taken over the role because . . . I don’t know, you always have to have one selfish jackass, I guess? Normally, I like survivor characters, the guy who’s all, “Uh, I’m not going into that creepy, dark tunnel by myself; thanks but no thanks.” But Richie is such a shrieky shit about everything that I mostly just want to punch him in the face. I can’t even blame the writers for this one — not entirely, anyway — because, according to that fabulous IMDb trivia, Harry Anderson improvised a whole bunch of his lines.

Thank you for nothing, Harry Anderson. You have mauled my very favorite character.

8. Oh, Henry’s kind of disappointing too.

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For the past thirty odd years, psychotic bully Henry Bowers has been languishing in a mental asylum after falsely confessing to all the child murders back in 1960. (We’re told this through some of the worst exposition ever. Beverly might as well say, “As you know, Losers . . .”)

But IT helps Henry break out of the asylum — by killing that one psycho orderly that’s guarding him, because when will these places stop hiring assholes to guard their crazies — so Henry can try and kill the Losers. (Specifically Mike, who he stabs to shit.) My problem here is that Henry is just not particularly threatening at all. He’s kind of a gibbering, drooling old man, and while that probably makes sense for someone who’s been locked away in a terrible mental institution for thirty years . . . I don’t know, I want that fight between Henry and Mike to be kind of awesome. I want it to be all tense, and it’s just not. At all.

9. This might just be my social anxiety talking — but if I know that I’m prone to hallucinations of clowns or blood or eyeballs stuffed inside fortune cookies . . . you know, I might order the Chinese food to go.

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And to think, all MY fortune cookie had inside it was a scrap of paper telling me that I should go watch a movie this weekend.

There’s really no reason that this reunion — which, after all, is about killing a giant monster that no one else wants to believe in — should be a public affair, right? Right. Let’s just stay in for the night, mmm-kay?

10. Also, let’s stay together for the night. The WHOLE night . . . no going off on your own unless you have to shit or something. And even then, someone should probably be sitting outside the bathroom door, on guard and at the ready.

Admittedly, the characters in the miniseries do show a little more sense than they do in the book, where I’m pretty sure Michael is off on his own in the library when he gets attacked. Still. Let’s not go to our own hotel rooms separately and plan to meet back in five. Let’s just go to each room together. We’re not actually on a time crunch here.

11. Although it should be said that catching up on each other’s various comical adventures from the last thirty years should probably come after you draw up a battle plan for how to kill IT. Also, when Mike tells the group that everyone’s free to leave if they want because they fulfilled their promise just by returning to Derry at all . . . well, that’s bullshit.

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“Swear to me. Swear that if it isn’t dead, that we’ll all come back . . . to eat Chinese food and run away again.”

12. I would also like to throw in, for the record, that Bill is still a horrible writer. I’m now basing this solely off of his book titles: Gargoyles Dance, Gnaw, The Smile, and The Glowing. Bill deserves to be tossed around the room by his ponytail for The Glowing alone. I don’t care if it’s a ha-ha nod to The Shining. Your hair will be pulled out strand by strand until you are bald like you are in the book, Bill!

13. The Big Showdown in It (the novel) is elaborately, horrifically metaphysical — there’s no way the makers of this miniseries were ever going to come close to truly adapting it. I would not have expected the final battle to be anything near how I pictured it.

I would, however, have likely expected a battle that took more than five minutes, particularly when you consider the total runtime of the miniseries is approximately 240 minutes. I also would have expected a battle that hadn’t included a needless death, shadow puppetry, and a hideously terrible puppet spider.

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Good God, this spider. If that isn’t horrible enough, here’s a close of up IT’s face.

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Even in 1990, I think this was bad.

So, here’s how the Big Battle goes: after Eddie declares his ridiculous virginity and eternal love for the group, they gangbang Beverly go attack IT, who is now a giant puppet spider. Bev fails to hit it once. Her second shot has no effect. Bill is very quickly mesmerized by the spider’s deadlights. Ben goes to save Bill and then is mesmerized by the spider’s deadlights. Richie goes to save Bill and Ben and then, yup, you guessed it, is mesmerized by the spider’s deadlights. So, you know. Good to know the A-Team is on the case.

Bev goes to find her missing silver slugs, while Eddie remembers how he once saved Stan’s life with his inhaler, which he pretended/believed was battery acid and sprayed it in the monster’s face. He does this again to save Bill, Ben, and Richie. Now, in the book, only Bill and Richie are in the deadlights, and they’re not just standing there hypnotized like morons — they’re engaging in a psychic battle and, unfortunately, losing. Eddie sprays the not-albuterol down IT’s mouth, giving Bill and Richie time to recover, and in return, IT screams in pain and bites off Eddie’s arm in a clear parallel to little Georgie getting his arm ripped off.

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“I believe in Santa Claus. I believe in the Easter Bunny. I believe in the Tooth Fairy. But I don’t believe in you. This is battery acid. Now you disappear.” (Actual quote from the miniseries, unfortunately.)

Here, Eddie’s attempt totally fails, and he basically gets squeezed to death, or something. Bill, Ben, and Richie aren’t free until Beverly finds the slugs and shoots one into IT’s glowing, deadlight-y underbelly. IT shrieks, drops Eddie, and runs off. Eddie dies mid-sentence, like everyone in Hollywood does, and the others chase after Puppet Spider IT. They then kick the spider for a few seconds, and we get to see their shadows rip into IT’s body and tear something out — a heart, presumably, although it actually does look more baby-shaped, and in the novel, IT is a female that’s laying all these eggs. So that could be a nod. Or just a weirdly lumpy shadow. Whatevs.

Like I said, I wasn’t exactly expecting greatness here, but this is horribly anticlimactic. The whole thing literally takes under five minutes. It’s terrible.

14. After IT is dead, Bill rescues his wife from a big spiderweb. (Audra secretly followed him to Derry, only to be captured by Pennywise.) They don’t rescue anybody else, even though there are tons of bodies around, so I guess they’re all dead? It’s hard to say for sure. Audra isn’t dead, but she is catatonic. And as you know, the only way to defeat catatonia is to take a ride on a bicycle down a very steep hill into traffic.

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It may have become apparent, but a lot of this novel really does not translate well into film. The bicycle thing? It sounds unbelievably stupid, but when you spend a 1,000 plus pages about the importance of this damn bike . . . it actually does work. In the miniseries? It’s ridiculous. Like I said before, there is so much ritual magic in It, so many battles fought with belief and make-believe and wishing. It’s one of the things I love about the book (other than the child-sex-magic scene, that is), but it’s so, SO awful here. I think, if this story were to get remade again, it would need to be directed by someone who had a really good grasp of fairy tales and surrealism. Which leads me to wonder. . . what would a Guillermo del Toro Pennywise the Dancing Clown look like?

15. Anyway, whoever’s behind the wheel — it probably shouldn’t be the guy who wrote and directed the one Halloween movie that DOESN’T feature Michael Myers. Like, we can all agree on that, right?

16. At the end, The Losers’ memories of IT — and of each other — start to fade away until they no longer remember anything about what happened. Which will make conversations awkward on the road, since Beverly and Ben leave together, presumably to get married and have children. Probably not a lot of good “first date” stories for them. Of course, Ben is particularly lucky that his memory is failing, since he’s the only one of the Losers to accidentally make out with Pennywise.

kiss

I could totally kiss Tim Curry, but I’ll admit, I’d rather he didn’t look like this when I did.

Ben kissed a clown, and he did not like it. I don’t imagine many people would.

17. Finally, it cannot be said enough: Tim Curry is the best.

pennywise

Why, yes. Yes, I am.

Love you, man. When I’m both a) a mother and b) disgustingly rich, can I hire you to dress up as a clown and horrify my kid at birthday parties? Because that would be pretty awesome.

CONCLUSIONS:

A highly ambitious but ultimately mediocre adaptation.

MVP:

Tim Curry, OBVIOUSLY.

CHILD MVP:

Seth Green. Because he’s the best of the kids, and better than most of the adults, and he deserves some credit for that.

LVP:

John Ritter. Much as I hate what they did to Richie — and I do — Ritter just has the worst performance.

TENTATIVE GRADE:

C

MORAL, PART II:

Sometimes, the virgin dies, after all.

ULTIMATE MORAL:

Clowns will kill the shit out of you. FEAR THEM.

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One Response to “Kiss Me, Fat Boy!”

  1. sooldman says:

    …and the fabulous(y) sets!!!!    love, Papa

    ________________________________

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