The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of "IT: Chapter 2"

By: Heather Seebach

***Warning: The following contains major IT: Chapter 2 spoilers***

If you read my review of IT: Chapter 2, you already know that I have mixed feelings about the film. There are aspects of the film that really work, while others made me downright angry. To avoid spoilers, I had to be fairly vague about my gripes in that review, so I wanted to write about the specific things that worked for me, and the things that bugged me. Keep in mind, the complaints still come from a place of love. I love the first film so much and it set the bar really high. As a result, my relationship with Chapter 2 is like that of a mother whose child has let her down. I'm not angry, just...disappointed. Why can't you be more like your older brother?!

Anyway, silly metaphors aside, the film has some really good elements and some real crap ones. I feel they are all worth discussing and so I will dissect them as honestly as I can. So here be spoilers, ye have been warned for the last time....

The Good

The Adrian Mellon Scene: Pulled right from the pages of Stephen King's novel, this scene is just as brutal and disturbing as it is supposed to be. Triggering as it may be to some viewers, it is essential that the scene be included. The first film saw children disappearing and sadistic bullies, but the terror needed to grow up along with the Losers Club. Depicting a brutal hate crime brings a kind of adult realism to the horror, especially in today's sociopolitical climate. A lot of viewers found this scene uncomfortable to watch but did not bat an eye at Georgie's death - that speaks volumes about what disturbs people on a deeper level, and that is exactly why it needed to be in the film. As for Pennywise's appearance in this scene, I loved it. Firstly, the depiction of him biting Adrian was far improved over the Georgie bite in the first film. Secondly, the bloody meat dangling from his mouth was a nice touch. If I could have added one thing, it would be one of my favorite little moments from the novel: Adrian's boyfriend, Don, runs screaming for help and you hear a little voice taunting him from the water - help - followed by a giggle. If you need help, Don, help yourself to a balloon!

Adult Henry Bowers: I loved the portrayal of adult Henry Bowers, even if he was sadly underused. Teach Grant, much like the rest of the actors, was great casting. I loved the introduction to Bowers in the Juniper Hill mental institution: the red balloon; the Patrick Hockstetter zombie; the bloody escape. One of my favorite little moments in the whole film is that Dutch angle shot of Bowers hopping into the passenger seat of his Firebird with zombie Hockstetter at the wheel. Get in loser, we're going murderin'!

The Losers' Club Reunion: The reunion in the Chinese restaurant is the best (and unfortunately, the only) representation of the adult Losers' chemistry. This is the closest the adult characters ever came to matching the camaraderie of their young counterparts. My only complaint about this scene is some of Eddie's reactions to the teasing are over-the-top. He gets excessively angry in a way that seems inconsistent with his character in the rest of the film. It is a very deliberate choice - even the editing adds to the effect - but it is very awkward. Other than that, I loved them all together in this scene, and the Pennywise hijinks that follow are suitably creepy. That freakin insect baby!

Every Pennywise the Clown Scene: I am referring exclusively to the scenes with Pennywise in clown form here. Yes, I am biased - I cannot get enough of that clown - but I really do think his scenes were some of the highlights of Chapter 2. In addition to the aforementioned Adrian Mellon scene, I love the scene with the little girl under the bleachers. I love that the girl does not fall for his "I'm your friend" shit so he pivots to a pity tactic instead. And his lunging bite (see below) was awesome - it resembled a shark attack. Similarly, the Funhouse scene with him licking the glass and that demonic smile was great. Perhaps my favorite Pennywise moment of the whole film, though, is when Ben is being buried under the dirt and the clown is taunting him. "All those sit-ups but deep down still just a little, fat, fat, fatty loser. Always knew you would die ALONE!" There is something in his voice there that suggests he is just fed up with these Losers. No more playful taunting and dancing, now he is just blunt!

Return to Neibolt House: I loved the scene when Pennywise is carving "Home At Last" into Ben's torso, especially the moment when he puts the knife to his throat. Ben's helplessness there is so scary, plus seeing Pennywise slitting someone's throat is way more unsettling than his usual shtick. It feels more...human? Now that's scary. Meanwhile, in the other room, we get the Stanley spider-head. Upon first viewing, this obvious nod to The Thing took me out of the scene a little bit but I came around to loving it. It is a great creepy effect and Richie quoting Palmer ("You gotta be fucking kidding") made my horror fan heart happy. Later on, Richie and Eddie face the three doors again (Scary/Very Scary/Not Scary At All). Sure, it is redundant of the first film, but that is the point, I suppose. I liked the callback to Betty Ripsom's missing legs, and that Pomeranian monster was sick! It kind of reminded me of the rabbit trick monster from Twilight Zone: The Movie. I also really liked the sequence with Beverly in the bathroom stall, as monsters from her past try to push through the door. That was a nice throwback to the first chapter without simply re-doing the same thing.

The Bad

The Adult Losers' Introductions: The biggest problem here is the scenes are not long enough. Granted, the film is already too long but I would rather have seen other scenes be cut and get more character backstory. I know 7 characters and 27 years is a lot to squeeze in but a little more development would have helped me care about these characters more down the line. Bill is shown on a film set with his wife Audra (whose role was significantly reduced) and for what? Basically just to kick off that recurring Stephen King joke about crappy endings. The only thing we learn about Ben is that he runs some kind of company (which you may or may not ascertain is related to architecture). We see that Eddie basically married his mom. The fact that the same actress plays both his wife and mother, though, is hilarious and I love that. Ironically, Stanley gets more backstory than he had in the novel. The scene that bothers me most, however, is Beverly's. Here is a woman who has been in an abusive relationship for years, no doubt as a result of her abusive father. Within the span of five minutes, she kicks his ass and leaves him. Now, it is not the kicking his ass part that bothers me. In the novel, she beats his ass even worse, but it is clear that Mike's phone call awakens something in her. She remembers Derry, the clown, and how strong she really is. Her husband sees a fury in her that he has never seen before. Nothing will stop her fulfilling her promise. In the movie, however, she continues to cower and apologize until she has to defend herself, then leaves him like it's nothing. It's that easy, ladies! Then the worst part: she triumphantly removes her wedding ring. Really? That was a really lame and obvious way to say, oh hey, it's okay for her to kiss Bill and Ben now! Ugh.

Henry Bowers Washes Up: This is a minor complaint but I have to mention it. In the middle of the 2016 scenes, the film cuts to the sewers flooding and out washes the bodies of the missing children from 1989 and a teenage Henry Bowers. The editing there is highly confusing, as it jumps 27 years back without any sort of transition. For comparison, the next scene jumps back to 2016 with Bowers in Juniper Hill but there is a very clear transition with the balloon and the scene changing to a dim grey color. The scene that re-introduces young Bowers had no such transition or date stamp and every time I watch the movie, I find it really annoying.

"This Stick Kills Monsters...If You Believe It Does": Just stupid. And corny. Enough said.

Richie's Excessive Quipping: Naturally, Richie is full of one-liners, and most of them are fine. The ones that got annoying to me occurred in the middle of tense moments. I understand that the character, like many real people, makes jokes when scared or nervous, but in those moments, I got no indication that Richie was actually scared or nervous. The aforementioned Stanley spider scene is one such example, where Richie does not even seem fazed. On the contrary, an example where the quipping worked: after Richie kills Bowers, he makes that "overdue" joke, and then immediately vomits. That works great! Without the puking, the quip would have killed that scene for me, but the fact that he threw up shows that he is genuinely rattled. Too often his jokes were calm and casual amidst the chaos and those are the moments when the quipping fell flat.

The Death of Pennywise: They bullied him to death? Really? When they were planning to lure him through the cave's opening to make him physically small, I was down for that plan. Seemed reasonable, since he is limited to the physical form he inhabits, right? Eddie just told us that with his dying words, so clearly that is important, right? Nah, they threw that plan out the window and opted to yell at him instead. Wait, isn't that basically what they did in the first movie, only they simultaneously beat his ass in that one? That did not kill him then, but I guess it will work now if you just use words. Then he turns into a deflated scrotum for some reason. Am I the only one who felt sorry for Pennywise there? Retreating like a wounded animal, having his legs torn off, then grasping at his heart with those little baby hands? Were we supposed to feel sorry for him? Because I definitely did.

The Ugly

The De-Aging of the Kids: Okay, look, I know this one is not fair. The filmmakers cannot help the kids hitting puberty, but if we are talking about glaring ugly things in Chapter 2, I have to mention it. It is most noticeable in the clubhouse flashback. I thought Finn Wolfhard (Richie) was going to be the most difficult to de-age but man, Jeremy Ray Taylor (Ben) looked like a cartoon at times. Jack Dylan Grazer (Eddie) was also problematic but moreso because the ADR was not syncing up with his motor-mouth. It is cringey to watch, but again, puberty is a bitch so I forgive this one

Mrs. Kersh Witch: This one I do not forgive. The sequence with Mrs. Kersh and Beverly in the apartment is so tense and wonderful...right up until the old lady changes form. She is supposed to be inspired by the witch from Hansel and Gretel but instead she looks like Gollum with saggy titties and Treasure Troll hair. The character design is just silly. I also see no reason why FX make-up was not exclusively used here, especially with the great Javier Botet playing the role. Much like the flute lady in Chapter 1, I am betting there was some quality makeup work behind this creature that was then ruined with digital cover-up. At least the flute lady had a cool character design. I hate this one. To imagine (and weep for) what could have been, compare the Kersh witch to the creature below from [REC], also played by Javier Botet:

Angel of the Morning: This moment is divisive among viewers. When Eddie is strangling the leper, it spews black fluid all over his face while Juice Newton's "Angel of the Morning" kicks in. While I usually like this random sort of humor (I loved the similar New Kids on the Block gag in the first film), this one did not work for me. Perhaps it's the fact that "Angel of the Morning" was so memorably used in Deadpool just a few years ago, or perhaps it's the way it comes absolutely out of nowhere. If the song had been previously mentioned in Eddie's life, or even been on the radio in the pharmacy, the gag would have been earned. Instead, it is just nonsensical and unfunny.

Rehashing Chapter 1's Jokes: Another way to be very unfunny is to constantly and aggressively quote the first film. The movie is only two years old for fuck's sake, you don't need to repeat all the quotes! At least when Pennywise does it (like when he mentioned gazebos) it makes sense because he stalks them and uses their words to taunt them. When Beverly says "beep beep, Richie", however, it makes absolutely no goddamn sense. That phrase was already awkwardly shoehorned into Chapter 1, but it is so much worse when Bev, who has never heard that in her life, says it. Then later, Eddie too gets in on the act with a "beep beep, motherfucker!" as he charges Pennywise. Ugh, just stop. Finally, the one that I absolutely loathe: when Bill recalls what Richie said 27 years ago at the Neibolt House and Richie proceeds to rattle off three different quotes. I don't want to die? Good thing we're not measuring dicks? Let's kill this fucking clown? First of all, they did not even remember Derry existed a few hours ago, but Richie can recite three different things he said 27 years ago in the midst of an evil clown battle? I know, perhaps I'm taking it too seriously, but aside from how unrealistic that is, I just cannot stand how this movie feels the need to pull from Chapter 1 so much. It is unnecessary, forced, unfunny, and cringey as hell.

Okay, that is enough bitching from me. What were your gripes and/or favorite moments?

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