I should go ahead and tell you that I absolutely ADORED this latest version of IT. I have a long-running history with the story (read IT multiple times in college and watched the whole mini-series, though I didn’t love it) and was far more excited about this remake than a grown woman should be. I had prepared myself for disappointment, after being let down by so many Stephen King adaptations, but 2017’s IT is everything I could’ve hoped for.
Director Andy Muschietti breathes fresh life into the story of bullied youngsters who take on a dark force, making IT a coming-of-age film as well as a horror movie. The teen-aged cast flesh out their roles even more effectively than the Stephen King book, but the absolute star of the show is, once again, Pennywise the Clown.
I don’t think anyone imagined a way to top Tim Curry’s iconic performance in the 1990 IT miniseries. Bill Skarsgård came to the role as a fan of the book though, and knew exactly what kind of Pennywise he wanted to deliver. He inhabited the role so completely that Muscietti often let Skarsgård improvise scenes. He even scared his child co-stars on set and trained with a contortionist to master Pennywise’s bizarre movements. It results in a jarring, sometimes comical but always terrifying performance. The images from IT that will stay with you are ALL of Pennywise, but that just might too much for some kids.
He’s not the reason I’m NOT taking my 13-year-old daughter to see IT, though. She’s a tough kid and will relish that awful clown when she sees him in a few years. No, it’s the powerful young cast (especially Jaeden Lieberher, Sophia Lillis and Nicholas Hamilton) and their painful experiences that I’m not comfortable showing her yet. There is a case of child molestation, and a bullying scene that goes literally over-the-edge. The kids also swear profusely. Finn Wolfhard (whom you might remember as Mike from Stranger Things) has all the best lines, but they’re filthy and usually in reference to his alleged sexual prowess. He’s hilarious and a much-needed comic relief, but the thought of sitting next to my daughter during his choice declarations makes me cringe. Sorry honey, but you’ll have to wait a year or two before I’m ready for that.
I think that parents who aren’t sure about taking their kids to see IT should just go see it without them first. It’s a great film (especially for those of us who have a running history with it) and one that you won’t mind seeing multiple times. I even went so far as to call it an Instant Classic, which also sent my 13-year-old into a tizzy. Don’t worry honey. I promise that you’ll get to see IT eventually, even if I have to sit and cringe a few rows away. (A+)