Pennywise is possibly Stephen King’s most iconic character, having been brought to life first in the 1990 TV miniseries IT, played brilliantly by Tim Curry. So, it was no surprise to hear about the reboot that came out last year, and I have to say I was happy enough with it. I think my anticipation got the better of me then, as the amazement of the film has all but worn off, but it was enough of a spur for me to pick up a copy of the book and get it read before the next chapters is released which is scheduled for Sept. 6 of next year.
Now, I could go on about the exhausted complaints about the 2017 film, or give you a nostalgic love letter as to why the original is better- it really is-, but I’d rather talk about the potential that Chapter 2 could have in store for us.
First off, no story is worth anything without its characters, and IT is arguably one of the most laborious efforts to flesh them out. However, I feel this is where the book and the 1990 miniseries win over the reboot. Believability. The characters, right down to the simple extras, I was convinced that there was something serious going on. Well, okay, not everything was so serious; of course the scene in the library and Curry’s imposing, yet hilarious laugh. But it all worked, at least as far as I’m concerned. It’s said, you don’t want to work with animals or children in film, for obvious reasons, but I felt young Bill’s pain, I empathized and feared for Ben and Mike, and Henry Bowers, good God, has to be one of the coolest young antagonists out there. That was enough for me to lend credibility to the rest (Richie, Beverly, Eddie, and Stan). As far as the 2017 rendition goes though, while I enjoyed the movie enough, it felt more like a group of kids trying really hard to impersonate these characters, if that makes sense. Stan’s Jewish, yeah we know. Richie is a motor mouth, Eddie is paranoid about being sick, and so on. Now, I know they’re just kids, and that’s how kids behave, but to me, it felt a little too forced.
And lets not forget to address the clown in the room! Not for nostalgic loyalty alone, but I give it to Tim Curry any day, taking nothing away from Bill Skarsgard. Just as quotable, just as memorable, and even more accurate to the appearance of Pennywise, but again, believability. You wouldn’t let your kid near either of these two, right? But, be honest about which one you’d be more nervous around. Skarsgard was unnerving, Curry was unassuming. And that, I feel played more into Pennywise’s goal of luring kids in. I called the characters in the 1990 version victims, but the 2017 one- stupid!
Now, it’s lost potential seeing as how the cast is set, and really the only one I’m looking forward to seeing is James McAvoy as adult Bill, but wouldn’t it have been a fantastic turn-a-cast if they were able to round up the children actors of the miniseries to play the adults of the Losers Club? They’re the perfect age, perfect timing! Oh, what a lost opportunity if there ever was one. But, speaking of returns, you have to wonder, will Tim Curry cameo? I’ll leave that for anticipation.
But there is an undeniable silver lining in the upcoming Chapter, and that is that it will take place in present day. This, I am hoping will give Pennywise, as well as the story itself room to evolve, as it will be stepping outside of IT‘s known universe, perhaps (I know that King’s books are latent with references to Pennywise here and there, so if I missed something please let me know). This move alone will hopefully justify IT‘s re-imagining, cause why else remake a movie (if not for the cash grab) than to take it someplace else? IT could restore my interest in remakes, but that’s an article for another time.
One last note I’d like to discuss, one that was brought to my attention by a friend and that is, can people- namely kids- relate to the story today? This may be something that hurts the story as a whole, because while people in 1990 could relate better to those in the late ’50s, getting into trouble and going places where they weren’t supposed to, do kids today really share the same attitudes and behaviors? I’m sure some do, they’re kids, but one of the aspects of the book I think I missed out on, which is why I didn’t find IT all that scary, was I grew up in the late 80’s/early 90’s. A changing environment, and even more so today. People aren’t the same as they were 30, or even 60 years ago. I think, while the themes of the story might still stick, the atmosphere not so much. This may be a challenge for Chapter 2. Make IT scary, make IT fun! Either way, I’ll be seeing IT, won’t you? You’ll die, if you try not to. You’ll die if you try…