One of my favorite books of all time is Stephen King’s It.
I love everything about it–the kids, their friendship, and the monster clown that likes to eat frightened children. I’ve read the book at least five times, most recently about a year ago. I’ve been excited for this story to finally be told as an R-rated feature film. With that in mind, it’s hard for a movie to be as good as I want it to.
First of all, the book is about a thousand pages–and that’s a lot of information to cover in a movie. Granted, the studio’s plan is for there to be two movies, one with the characters as children, and then a sequel as adults. Still, to fit it in just over two hours, they have to compress and delete a lot. The terrible made-for-television mini-series of It from 1990 was low-budget, sanitized, and awful in every way. It wouldn’t be hard for the filmmakers to top that.
And they do, this time around. Oh, do they ever.
First of all, the young actors are brilliant. They carry the movie and are absolutely charming in every way, just like the book. Bill Skarsgard is menacing as Pennywise. He has far fewer lines than in the TV version, and that is just fine; he can give you the creeps with just a smile! The town is just as I pictured Derry in my mind. The clumsy-but-sweet interaction between Ben and Bev is adorable, and the characters are delightfully foul-mouthed. The story is told with a lot of heart, and that helps you love the characters.
There are several things you don’t get from the book, and there are a couple things they changed for whatever reason. I’d estimate that about 70% of the stuff from the book they used is spot on. The other 30% has been altered, sometimes annoyingly, especially when it comes to Mike Hanlon and Stan Uris. The sequences in the house on Neibolt Street are great, although you don’t get the werewolf–which is sort of good, since it would have probably looked corny on the screen. The werewolf is more of a 1950’s monster, which is the time the book is actually set. The movie portrays the kids in 1989. The ending feels rushed, as if they run into the sewers with no actual plan in mind. I enjoyed most of everything the movie had, I just wanted more of it. I give it a B+ or 4 out of 5 stars.
I’m a book purist. I’d love every single page of the book portrayed as-is, and they only way to do that would be 25 hours of a Netflix series!