One of the greatest strengths of this movie was its cast, which is something I never thought I'd say, considering that child actors can often be excruciating, and in Tommy Lee Wallace's mini-series, that was absolutely true, with the exception of Seth Green. Muschietti's young cast were all very solid, even if some of them were better than others. I didn't dislike any of them, although I have to say my favorites were Jack Dylan Grazer as Eddie Kaspbrak and Finn Wolfhard as Richie Tozier. I liked Wolfhard's performance a lot, but that didn't really surprise me because I know Wolfhard from Stranger Things (has there ever been a more King-like TV series that wasn't based on King's works?). Grazer really surprised me, because he took a character who could have been really annoying and made me truly root for him. This kid is going places.
As for Bill Skarsgård, he was surprisingly good as Pennywise/It, and I'll admit, he blew my expectations out of the water. I wasn't sure what I'd think of him, and honestly I still kinda wish they'd gone with Doug Jones, who can literally be anything, but hey, that's just me wishing, not to take anything away from Skarsgård. In a match between Skarsgård and Tim Curry, well, there just is no contest. Skarsgård beats Curry eight ways from Sunday. It says something about his performance that they only real complaint I've heard about his performance was that he was too scary, as in, some critics suggested that as scary as he was, he was never going to lure any children to him.
To that I say: spoken like someone who's never read the books. The Pennywise persona is not intended to lure. In fact, the only real scene where he could be said to even be trying to lure a kid is when he's talking to Georgie from the sewers, but in the book it's pretty clear that Georgie just wants his boat back and is maybe kind of enticed by the idea of a circus in the sewers, but he never trusts the clown and feels like the situation is wrong. Countless times it's described that children, even sleeping babies, begin crying and feel afraid as soon as he comes around, clown persona or no. Besides, Pennywise doesn't need to lure the kids. Once he's decided to eat you, you are food, no matter how fast you run (unless you're one of the Lucky Seven being protected by the great Turtle Maturin). Lure the kids? Pennywise is trying to scare the kids and dang if Bill Skarsgård doesn't do just that. Adults too.
As for the other kids, I liked them a lot, some perhaps more than others. For example, Sophia Lillis is a bit too much on the tomboy side for Bev, and I don't understand the decision to have her cut her hair, that thing that attracts Ben so much to her, but hey, at least they kept her a redhead this time. Jaeden Leiberher was just kinda there as Bill, which is bad as he's supposed to be the leader of the pack. It wasn't a bad performance at all, and I did like their adding in Bill's fervent belief that Georgie might still be alive. It lent a real weight to the scene where It pretends to actually be Georgie, and I tell you, that scene got me, in more ways than one. It made me weep, and then it made me afraid...afraid that Georgie might actually have been kept alive by It, waiting to trick Bill into being the hand that murdered his brother.
Chosen Jacobs, Jeremy Ray Taylor and Wyatt Olef were all very good as Mike, Ben and Stan. Ben was actually fat! Yay! Stephen Bogaert was a superbly creepy Al Marsh, Molly Jane Atkinson was freakin' perfect as Sonia Kaspbrak, and to be honest, both are better choices than the ones I came up with. Nicholas Hamilton and Owen Teague were different choices for Henry Bowers and Patrick Hockstetter than I expected (as in, neither really looks like the characters as described) but were appropriate for the new time. And yes, the new time actually worked a lot better than I thought it would. I even said in my casting for this book that the "current" setting is now 30 years old, so Muschetti apparently realized, as I did not, that it's now a nostalgic time period itself.
But this brings me to today's actual topic which is two-fold. Topic number one is, do I want this film (and its announced sequel) to be a part of my considerations for the SKCU I'm setting up on this blog? The answer is yes, because you can't have the SKCU without It, and this version was plenty good enough to not require a remake. But as the first film covered only the Losers Club as children, it remains to be seen what adults will be cast.
In an odd move, the child cast were all asked who they would like to play their characters as grown-ups, and it sounds like Muschietti and company at least are taking this somewhat seriously. Gan knows how many of them are going to sign on, but let's go through them and see how each of them would do. As the kids in the movie (set in 1989) were aged from 11 (their ages in the books) to about 12 or 13, and assuming Muschietti intends to set this in modern day (for accuracy's sake he should probably pick 2016), then we'd need actors who are, or look, about 39 years old. For the most part, I still like my picks, but let's stack them up against the Loser's Club's choices:
Jaeden Lieberher (Bill Denbrough) picked Christian Bale to play adult Bill. Now, Bale is one of those actors who can transform himself to be whatever kind of character you want, even losing or gaining weight and muscle, and playing around with his hairline. My pick was Topher Grace, most famous for That 70's Show but still working and visibly mature from that era.
|As the bags under those eyes clearly show|
|Then again, Bale can go from hot to butt ugly even with no makeup...|
Sophia Lillis (Beverly Marsh) wants Jessica Chastain for Beverly Rogan (whom I do hope they have as married, with Tom included as a tertiary antagonist, as in the book). As I was casting a TV miniseries with no clue when or if one would happen, I went with Bryce Dallas Howard as she'd be a fine fit and wouldn't age out, or break the bank. But as this is a movie, there's no need to worry about the actors being too expensive (within reason) and Chastain has already expressed her willingness to do this, which should be surprising as she's worked with Muschietti on a horror movie before. She's 41 and looks at least five years younger than that, she's beautiful and has the necessary red hair (I always prefer matching the actor's natural hair to a dye job) and she's probably in talks for it as we speak. I see no problem casting her. I had, however, chosen her for the lead role in Crouch End. That role can easily be switched with Bryce Dallas Howard. At some point I'll probably update that post.
|I can believe Bill and Ben would both want her|
Honestly, Beverly as written is kind of a problematic character for me. She's supposed to not be a slut, despite her reputation, but King has her doing several slutty things. For that matter, he subjects her to quite a heap full of Male Gaze, taking great care to describe what she's wearing and how beautiful she looks in it (even as a child) and even going so far as to frequently have her clothing be too small, and thus, revealing. Which kid is it whose shirt rips open when they confront It? Bev's, natch. Whose shorts are from last year and now look like Daisy-Dukes? Bev's, of course. This translated into every male character in the film casting lustful glances her way, which is odd since they picked a rather boyish actress for her.
Anyway, enough of that.
Jeremy Ray Taylor (Ben Hanscomb) picked Chris Pratt for adult Ben, and dangit if that's not a casting coup. This kid hit the nail on the head. I was never totally happy with my choice (Charlie Cox), But Pratt, with his natural charm, ability to play serious or kooky and good looks, he's the perfect guy for Ben to have grown up to. An even better reason; Pratt was once a good deal fatter than he is today, and has gone through the same transformation Ben was supposed to go through.
|Boy, did he ever go through it|
Chosen Jacobs (Mike Hanlon) picked Chadwick Boseman to play Mike as an adult. Now, I understand they're changing Mike's character a bit to have him turn to drugs as a way of coping with his responsibility. I'm not sure how thrilled I am about that, but it does give Mike a bit of a Kingian complex, and thus make him, indirectly, another aspect of King's past. I don't know much about Boseman beyond seeing him as Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War but he'd be a fine choice. Sure, I'll swap Anthony Mackie for Chadwick Boseman.
|Or, Falcon for Black Panther|
|He'll be better than Harry Anderson, that's for damn sure|
Grazer, who played Eddie Kaspbrak, wants Jake Gyllenhaal, while Olef, who played Stan Uris, wants Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Eddie is described as still being small, gaunt and sickly, with a sunken face and wide, staring eyes. Again, Grazer wants Jake Gyllenhaal.
|The glasses help|
For Eddie, I maintain that Elijah Wood is the only choice. Like Gyllenhaal and Levitt, he's 36, and like Levitt, he looks younger but at the same time, not. I have always thought of him as looking kind of pathetic, like a grown man whose body refuses to admit he's not a child anymore, and there's no question that he can do sickly, and has the gauntness and wide, staring eyes. I even tweeted Jack Dylan Grazer about this, hoping to change his mind.
|Even his glamour shots look a bit pathetic|
I'm nearly finished my It re-read, and then I'll be reading the short story The End of the Whole Mess which I may or may not be casting, so for now I'll not end this post with a "Next Up", although I do know that my next full novel to read, The Eyes of the Dragon will be getting an adaptation.
See you all in 2018 with my first casting in nearly two years!
Edit: Sorry, I don't know why part of this is highlighted in white, and I can't get it to go away.
Also, I really do hope they keep It's true form in the sequel, and I hope DOES NOT look like a giant spider. It is not a giant spider. That's just the closest the Losers can come to describing it. It's more like something Lovecraftian, that threatened to break their mind. Just as I've heard some people describe Cthulhu as a "lobster" or "octopus", despite neither of those descriptions doing him even close to justice, I hope It looks something like this: