Written by Stephen King (1986), adapted into a television miniseries (1990) and now remade for 2017, It hits theaters today. If you’ve never read the book or seen the 1990 version, the local children in the town of Derry, Maine are disappearing one by one, but the phenomenon somehow goes unnoticed by the adults. A group of seven teens are united by their terrifying encounters with an evil clown that is behind the disappearances and their quest to kill It.
To be honest, I had never seen the 1990 version until about 4 o’clock this morning. (Pardon me, but I was busy giving birth that year and couldn’t be concerned with Stephen King or what was on television at the time.) I enjoyed it, and although I am one who desperately craves original content in film and kvetches about remakes regularly, I immediately understood why this particular movie was ripe to be remade, and the anticipation surrounding this particular remake. (Oh, and I never have and never will read the book. Just so we are clear. I’m sure it’s fantastic, but no thank you. I have enough trouble sleeping at night.) It’s great material to modernize and make into a movie because the issues covered in the original (set in the early 60’s – the kid’s portion of the movie at least) and the remake (set in the late 80’s) are still relevant (if not moreso, unfortunately) today. Child abduction is a terrifying possibility that we know more about and have more exposure to and anxiety about than ever (thank you social media). Couple that with some crazy ass clown who stalks, taunts, manipulates and terrorizes children, and you’ve really got the stuff of nightmares! These children also face severe and brutal bullying, and abuse in many forms at home (some sort of extremely twisted and weird sexual grooming, coddling nearly to the point of crippling, mistreatment from an adoptive family). Like too many children who must learn to adapt and find their social circle outside of their own homes, these teens build their own family through their friendship and their common connection to It.
So, (teeny, tiny spoiler alert for to those of us who do not watch previews or trailers or read reviews of movies before seeing them, like myself)), the adult versions of these children who were present in the 1990 adaptation are not included here at all. And why should they be? This was one smart move! It makes the film less of a remake and more of an edited version of the original. It keeps the movie from running over 3 hours long, as the original did. The loss of all those flashbacks improves the editing process and we get a “smoother” story. The result is linear, straightforward storytelling.
Not featuring the children as adults also keeps the budget in check with no need to pay big money to hire big stars to draw viewers. The absence of the “A Lister” adults also allows the budget to be evenly distributed throughout the film as far as effects, cinematography, makeup, wardrobe, those little 80’s details (although I’m sure the nitpickers have already found flaws), and so on – and everything here is done well. The entire budget was about $35,000,000. Brilliant! There is one line in the movie that lets you in on why It is being remade now (2017) which I thought was a very thoughtful detail as it is a slight change in a detail from the 1990 version.
Don’t get me wrong. While I found the adult characters sort of annoying the first time around I did appreciate the psychological complexities they displayed as a result of their childhood traumas. Still, I didn’t miss them here for a minute.
The young, seasoned talent did a great job. Finn Wolfhard (from Stranger Things) provides the potty-mouth comic relief, and I’m sure he had fun doing it. Andy Muschietti did a good job directing. Super Kudos to Chase Palmer, Gary Fukunaga and Gary Dauberman for having the temerity to remix the work of this storytelling master and come up with the screenplay for It. I say, let them have a crack at more older material and let’s see what they come up with!
Since this is not 1990’s television there is more graphic gore and more cursing, and I didn’t mind it one bit. Teens, when they are amongst themselves, believe it or not mom and dad, do and say things they wouldn’t otherwise do or say. I thought the moments when these kids were being foul-mouthed or just being themselves, being free and acting their age in peace, lent authenticity to the way many kids behave around one another. That is the comfort of friendship. The most refreshing part? These kids were outside, on their bikes, having fun, having adventures – and there wasn’t one cell phone in sight. (Remember those days?) No one had to Google anything or text their mom to say where they were. Siri or Maps wasn’t used to help navigate. I loved It. (Haha – see what I did there?…)
If you want to know more I recommend you go see It. It earned 8 out of 10 bloops. It is a great movie that shouldn’t be missed if you’re a fan of horror, It the miniseries, the book or Stephen King. Since “the powers that be” will obviously continue to churn out remakes whether the public likes it or not, hopefully this will help to raise the bar on how a remake should be treated! Take what is good about the original work and use it to build something fresh.
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1 = worst ever, avoid at all cost
2 = very bad, forget about it!
3 = poor movie, not recommended
4 = not good, even for free – NO!
5 = so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6 = not bad, could have been better
7 = good movie, worth seeing
8 = great movie, don’t miss it!
9 = excellent movie, a must see!
10 = a masterpiece, go see it now!
What I’m seeing this week…
The Big Sick
All Eyez on Me
It Comes at Night
The Wedding Plan
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Kong: Skull Island
The Girl with All the Gifts
A Cure for Wellness
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
Florence Foster Jenkins
I Am Not Your Negro