It is the highly anticipated remake of Stephen King’s bestseller that became a popular miniseries and now it’s getting the big screen treatment 27 years after its initial release. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not. All I will say is that it’s an adaptation that lives up to the hype, will satisfy hardcore fans, and maybe create new converts.
The movie stays true to the spirit of the original source material beginning with young Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) whose paper boat goes underneath a sewer and then is confronted by the sinister clown Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard). Of course Pennywise does his usual routine of luring kids underground and then making sure they "float."
Georgie’s older brother Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) is determined to solve the mystery behind his brother’s disappearance and he finds several kid allies who experience similar circumstances with the demonic clown: An overweight kid (Jeremy Ray Taylor) who has a penchant for New Kids on the Block and wanting to try and impress a young girl (Sophia Lillis). All the while, she’s busy dealing with an abusive father.
Other kids include a hilariously nasty kid (Finn Wolfhard); a Jewish germaphobe kid (Wyatt Oleff); an African American kid (Chosen Jacobs) that deals with a grandfather who literally wants him to lead lambs to the slaughter and rounding out the cast is a hypochondriac (Jack Dylan Grazer). These kids had the potential to become easily and quickly petulant but they turn out performances that are actually nuanced and likable and don’t hit a false note.
It is a horror movie that is such a delight to see due to its intelligence, thrills, and imagination. As I mentioned already, a lot of this movie’s greatest strength comes from the chemistry and camaraderie of its young cast. They are at once believable, funny, and effective in nearly every scene.
King’s work has always polarized his fan base but this latest effort succeeds.
From its unique visual aesthetic to its ‘80s pop culture reference (Batman and Lethal Weapon 2 make an appearance on the marquee at a local movie theater) to its satisfying payoff that lays the groundwork for the inevitable sequel, It is a movie that works on multiple levels: It’s a great King adaptation, a great horror movie, and one of the year’s best films.
As Pennywise says, "It floats. It floats." Well, guess what? So this does terrific remake.
(Rated R for violence/horror, bloody images, and for language.)
Hall is a syndicated columnist in South Georgia.