Review- IT (1990, the classic adaptation)

by Brandon Matzke (guest modern movie reviewer)

Rating: TV-14

Since the newest version of the terrifying Stephen King novel is coming out this week (I have seen the movie, it’s a 10/10), I thought it would be fun to look back at the TV mini-series that “scared a generation”; IT (starring Tim Curry as Pennywise the dancing clown). So, after days of searching Goodwills for a copy (and finally buying one on VHS for a dollar), and 3 and ½ hours of watching, I finally decided to review it. So, how was the classic mini-series? Well… I honestly have no idea. I’m gonna have to do something unusual for me: divide this into positives and negatives. But before I tell you my thoughts, I have to explain the structure. IT uses what I like to call the “Nolan formula”, where it often switches between past and present (this film’s present is 1986). So, half of the series follows the characters as children growing up in the town of Derry during the 50s, while the other half follows them as adults re-entering Derry to combat a childhood fear: Pennywise. Make sense? Well, let’s get this started!

Positives

1. The child actors

Believe it or not, but the kids in this movie are surprisingly talented. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that a young Seth Green was cast, but for the most part, they did pretty well. Sometimes, even better than the adults! The kids brought emotion into the film, and if the entire film was focused on the kids, I would’ve enjoyed it much more.

2. Tim Curry as Pennywise

I feel kind of strange about Curry’s iconic take on the child-devouring clown; part of me loved every second of him on screen, while another felt he was in the wrong movie. Let me explain. Curry was surprisingly a laugh riot; every joke he made had me cracking up. He truly stole the show. But at the same time, he was supposed to be scary. And the rest of the film took itself very seriously, so it felt rather jarring. Welcome, but jarring.

3. It’s surprisingly tame for a “scary movie”

This is probably the tamest Stephen King adaptation I’ve ever seen, despite the fact that it’s based on one of his most disturbing works. There’s nothing too gory, and it never gets too creepy. If you’re curious about scary movies, but aren’t exactly ready for Alien (my personal favorite scary movie), then this one is a great place to start.

Now onto the negatives. Oh boy…

1. The adults

Nothing against these people, but sometimes the acting from the adults feels rather bland. I don’t if it’s because their child counterparts did such a great job, but I found myself dreading seeing the adults’ stories. They were kind of predictable.They definitely dragged down the second half, since it was almost entirely focused on them.

2. The plotholes

Some plot points make zero sense at times, and I wouldn’t mind if they weren’t so “in your face” about some of them. For spoiler’s sake, I will not cover them, but they do annoy me. If you’re there for Tim Curry though, then it won’t be much of a bother.

3. The stop-motion

Listen, I used to make stop-motion films; I know how hard it is to use it properly. But the stop-motion in the film has not aged well. It looks extremely dated, and feels very out of place. But, again, it won’t be much of a bother to those there for a good time.

4. The Stephen King cliches I don’t know if these are as abundant in the novel as they are in this movie, but they do get on my nerves. If you don’t know them, then you’re going to have a lot more fun than I did. Trust me when I say that.

Final Thoughts

So, those were my personal thoughts on IT, a mini-series I sadly did not enjoy. But, for a few reasons, I still recommend it in a weird way. Tim Curry’s take on Pennywise is something you need to see to believe. This man was clearly having the time of his life doing this, and it shows. The childhood half of the movie works well acting as a sort of “supernatural coming of age” story. And, again, it’s a decent introduction to those who are curious about scary movies. Plus, it’s a great watch with friends.

I had a great time getting through this thanks to a very close friend, and I highly recommend getting as many of your pals together to watch this. It might not have been my cup of tea, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some enjoyment to be had. I personally give it a 6/10, but it’s clear that others can enjoy this more. Is it the best Stephen King adaptation? Not even close (nothing can beat The Shawshank Redemption). Is it the worst? As someone who has seen most of the worst (never watch Maximum Overdrive, Dreamcatcher, Sleepwalkers, etc. ), I can gladly say no. It’s somewhere in the middle. You either adore it, think it’s OK (me), or hate it.

Other reviews:

62% on Rotten Tomatoes

6.9/10 on IMDb

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