Imagine for a moment; try to reflect deeply on all the human ideas that started out as all-in-all good intentions that turned out completely wrong and opposite of the original purpose. Now, suppose this contemplation was molded into the form of a question survey of 100 people whom didn’t know each other. Chances are, more than just one person will return a response of clowns.

Indeed, what was once a figure meant to delight kids is now a figure that, especially in the last few years, has become so intolerably despised that it’s reasonable to deduce that the rodeo clown may be safer eluding the bull in the pin than eluding the public on the street.  While this is not likely to change any time soon, audiences may find the villain in the 2017 film adaption of Stephen King’s IT to be the most charismatic clown they’ve seen this decade.

After watching the trailer and viewing images of the Bill Skarsgård version of Pennywise, it’s difficult to understand how such a malevolent scowl would fool a child of any age. However, once viewers hear the antagonist speak, they’ll realize that there’s an appeal to this character with capabilities of manipulating persons under age eight despite an appearance much darker than Tim Curry’s in the TV miniseries. The clown is greatly more ominous this time much like Heath Ledger’s Joker. Although Skarsgård’s jester is not as charming as Ledger’s, the latter’s facade could perceivably steal a college-aged male’s vehicle by promising the young adult a few beers and a night of mischief about town provided that he let Heath’s Joker drive. Even though the presumed collegian’s intuition tells him that the best-case scenario to agreeing involves being stranded with a feeling a disappointment and thankfully, no stab wounds.

The atmosphere of the film’s beginning leads one to believe that the remainder could be more overwhelming than even some devout King fans can handle. Conversely, that’s likely not the case for most fans after seeing this movie. This flick is more fascinating than frightening. Not only does Pennywise look awesome but the visuals, special effects, and overall aesthetics all look so great that observers will find themselves looking closer and focusing in with amazement instead of looking away. Other lighthearted aspects of the film include comical dialogue and a soundtrack that includes songs from bands such as The Cure and New Kids On The Block.

After seeing the film twice in one evening in theaters, it became apparent that both crowds that attended the showings laughed several times while the action rolled. But, not one attendee from either showing screamed aloud or let out the slightest sign of distress.

This recent release follows the 1990 miniseries reasonably well. In a setting roughly 30 years prior to the present day, six males and one female form what they eventually call “The Losers Club” while growing up in the town of Derry, Maine. On top of fighting a sadistic creature with a penchant for disguise, they also deal with a knife-wielding bully and each member has their struggles with personal relationships.

A double-edged sword is the R-rating of the big-screen re-imagining. While it allows for a more brutal and less campy experience in contrast with the two-part series, the dialogue between these youths is terrible. This is largely the fault of one “Loser” whose language is so overtly profane and vulgar that it becomes irritating. He’s portrayed in the book as a loudmouth but his lines on screen have this member of the unlucky seven regularly constructing sexual innuendo and dropping F-bombs. Basically all the kids are foul-mouthed which provides some laughs and makes them seem tougher but it does little else. These crass conversations make the adolescents less likeable and the clown more likeable. It should be the other way around. Onlookers should hate Pennywise because he’s bringing harm to minors whom they’re rooting for but instead some will have to remind themselves to not cheer on a beast that’s already so cool that they don’t hate him to not kill these annoyingly talkative kids. The awful dialogue paired with the awe-inspiring visuals creates a striking juxtaposition in which the sound may dampen the complete experience to the point that the viewer could just as well enjoy the film on mute.

This movie is entertaining. It’s fun, but it’s not emotionally challenging. When compared to the hell that Stephen King’s already put his fans through, it’s the equivalent of throwing a pebble at a suit of hardened emotional armor. Those who’ve never seen a horror movie would be surprised at how many laughs they had while watching this with a group of friends. They can see it, enjoy it, and go home with nothing too heavy weighing on their minds that later lingers on in dreams.

It’s better than the 1990 series and the clown is scarier looking this time. But Tim
Curry’s version delivered some scenes that were more stomach churning and therefore, made his character easier to hate. Certain observers of the 2017 upgrade may find the actions of other characters more disturbing than anything Skarsgård’s Pennywise does. As previously stated, the clown here is the loveable star of the show much like Ledger’s Joker.

So, maybe, just maybe, the public can find a clown that they can observe for a while
without getting so upset while watching this new form of Pennywise.

Tyler Spivey