Starting with a wholly unnecessary hate crime sequence, It: Chapter Two is the worst clown-infused sequel since the birth of John Wayne Gacy Jr. Almost entirely plot-free, the film is frequently cheap-looking, unintentionally silly, and a total CWBH, which stands for “complete waste of Bill Hader.” That probably didn’t need an acronym, but after 170 minutes of It 2: The Yawn-maker, anything that’s shorter is better.
After the aforementioned opening gay bashing, a scene that should be made legendary for its exceptional tone deafness, It 2: Let’s Watch People Remember Things reintroduces every character. One by one. Slowly. Over the last 27 years, each of the teenage members of the Losers club has grown nicely into their hackneyed premise.
Bill (James McAvoy) is now a wealthy writer and obvious Stephen King surrogate. Ben (Jay Ryan) got swoll and rich. Richie (Bill Hader) parlayed youthful F-bombs into a stand-up comedy career. Eddie (James Ransone) is now a risk assessor “hilariously” married to a carbon copy of his overweight, overbearing mother. Beverly (Jessica Chastain) is in a completely different sexually abusive relationship. Stanley (Andy Bean) does a puzzle; the rest is a spoiler. And Mike (Isaiah Mustafa), who stayed in Derry, calls everyone home to kill the returned and murderous Pennywise the clown (Bill Skarsgård).
How do you kill a shape-shifting, possibly interdimensional demon/alien with an ever-changing set of powers? If your guess involved a lazy appropriation of Native American rituals, give yourself a honk on the nose. Gary Dauberman’s script is a cacophony of horror notes in search of a composer. Basic facts are confusing and jumbled, despite a spectacularly whack attempt to plot-splain that involves microdosing with a hallucinogenic and an ancient vase filled with exposition.
Hands down, the most shocking thing about It 2: What’s With All the Crab and Spider Stuff? is how cheap and ill-conceived many of the CGI creatures are. The film is clown-car packed with preposterously goofy character designs apparently rendered in Microsoft Paint. The second most shocking thing about It 2: Everybody Chant Now is the stilted, near-painful performances of everyone whose last name doesn’t rhyme with Vader.
The first scene of the reunited Losers club captures the feeling of a mom refusing to stop taking family photos until “everyone does a silly one.” These actors may all well be best friends in real life, but watching them interact exudes the sensation that they never wish to be in the same place at the same time ever again.
Stephen King is beloved, and It is among his most revered texts, for reasons I shall neither judge nor ever understand. Without question, most of his fans will either genuinely enjoy this conclusion or at least convince themselves that they did, a guilt-free crime each of us has committed for a fandom to which we swear fealty. However, purely as a film on its own, It 2: At Least There’s No Sewer Orgy is a start-to-finish misfire, from its insensitive opening to an ending that would make Peter Jackson give the “wrap it up” signal.
Grade = D