I’m a little late with this. Christmas is taking up pretty much all parts of my brain. No, seriously, all parts. Last night I DREAMED Christmas. And also kind of forgot to go to bed until way too late. And sometimes I’m not eating in a timely fashion. ANYWAY.
So last Sunday, I was super-excited. SUPER-excited. Why? Because I had the day off? No. Because it was a nice day? No. Because…um…it was National Noodle Ring Day? Well, no, but if I had known THAT you can bet it would have added an extra layer of zing. No, I was excited because it was new Stephen King miniseries day.
Bag of Bones was airing last Sunday and Monday, and I was EXCITED. As mentioned to the point that you probably think the man bankrolls my life (and, bee tee dubs, if he WANTS to, that’d be cool, give me a call, Steve! Or, you know, just to hang out? Cool! Cool, cool, cool!) I love all things King. Love, love, love. Bag of Bones is a great book, and I couldn’t wait to see what they did with the miniseries.
I was a little worried about the casting, though. Now, I don’t know how many of you have read the book, but the lead character, Mike Noonan, and his wife, Jo, are expectant parents. I could research this more fully – I do own the book – but, as mentioned, Christmas has eaten my brain. Let’s assume they’re in their mid-to-late 30s. That’s fair, right? Yes.
Cast in the roles of Mike and Jo Noonan: Pierce Brosnan and Annabeth Gish. Gish is 40 – on the far end of an unplanned pregnancy, but ok, I can deal with that. Brosnan is 58. And he LOOKS 58. Not promising. Also, Brosnan is Irish. And the Noonans need to be from Maine, or the genealogy doesn’t work.
But! New Stephen King MINISERIES DAY! I would not be DETERRED by such a thing as BAD CASTING DAMMIT! Even when my lovely and amazing Erin (who I think might have a future in casting) mentioned to me that “Wouldn’t David Duchovny have been an inspired casting choice” and I thought about that and it made my whole stomach cramp with desire to make that so, because YES, that would have been BRILLIANT.
So, phone in hand so Erin and I could tweet each other while watching, I settled in for the first half of the two-day event.
And friends and neighbors, it sucked so hard I turned it off after the first hour.
I KNOW WHAT THE HELL. Stephen KING. I turned off a Stephen King miniseries. After the first HOUR. My tolerance for crap has gone way, way downhill in the past few months. I just don’t have the time for it. I sit down with crap and I start thinking of the millions of other things I have to do that I should be doing and it makes me twitchy. But this was awful.
Brosnan looked his age; he didn’t attempt to hide his accent (it may have been explained later in the series why a native Maine-ite was Irish, but I wasn’t sticking around for that bit of business alone); Mattie Devore, the lovely 20-year-old, LOOKED twenty, so 58-year-old Brosnan climbing on her later was going to give me the creeping willies; the special effects looked like I could achieve them with some fishing line and my cell phone camera; Brosnan was so over-the-top-scenery-chewy that I laughed out loud at him sadly a couple of times; and at one point, he went for a run, and was flailing his arms like Phoebe in that episode of Friends where she went for a run in the park. Also I think he was falling in love with a tree when I turned it off, but that particular plot development will have to stay hidden for now.
SON I AM DISAPPOINT.
That got me thinking, and some friends and I were talking, about how King’s adaptations are very hit-or-miss. You’ve noticed this, right? For every one of his movies that’s brilliant and amazing, there’s one that makes you laugh so hard you choke on your popcorn. What does he think of this, I wonder? Is he embarrassed? As an author, do you even watch your own movies? Or do you say “nuh-uh, not watching that crap, no thanks, they’ll leave out my favorite part” and you go out to dinner that night and avoid all media?
Let’s talk about some hits and misses.
No, NOT the remake. The original. Yes, yes, it’s a little cheesy to watch it now, what with the 70s production values and such. But this is a really, really good movie. Creepy and awesome and ZOMG Sissy Spacek’s blank stare out of her blood-covered face at the prom when she shuts the gym doors to lock everyone in to unleash destruction. I do wish they hadn’t had her kill her mother with kitchen implements? But it’s more theatrical than a heart attack, I get it. And then! The hand! Coming out of the grave at the end! POW!
Bag of Bones
See above. Also, Matt Frewer was in this, and he will always be The Trashcan Man to me if he’s in a King adaptation, so I kept waiting for him to say “MY LIFE FOR YOU” to Brosnan or something, and it didn’t happen, and that was sad for me. Oh, and Jason Priestly was in it. I don’t really have a snarky comment about that. Just thought it bore mentioning that Brandon Walsh was in this movie.
Stand by Me
If you don’t love this movie I’m pretty sure your soul is dead, seriously. Baby River Phoenix, all full of life and such a little golden god! Baby Wil Wheaton, ZOMG with his little face! Scary Kiefer Sutherland! The pie-eating contest! Chopper the attack dog! The body! The leeches! The crying! Richard Dreyfuss and the photo at the end! The story was brilliant, and the movie was such an amazing adaptation. Total win for King on this one.
OK, this, granted, was not one of my favorite books, but the movie reached such epic levels of suck that I don’t even know where to begin. Morgan Freeman’s eyebrows (see above) pretty much took over the screen every time he made an appearance. There were shit-weasels. Jason Lee at one point looked at the camera with this very “holy hell GET ME OUT OF THIS MOVIE” look that made me laugh so hard I almost choked to death. Donnie Wahlberg and his repeated “Duddits!” and “Ooby-ooby-ooo.” This is the movie that my then-roommate and I went to see and got the giggles so badly we were sure we were going to be ejected from the theater so we had to set up an elaborate system of coats between us to block ourselves from each other’s view, because every time we caught each other’s eye, we would just lose it all over again. WORST. Just WORST.
Yes, yes, I know, there was some cheesiness going on, and the acting wasn’t consistently the best, but don’t you even tell me that Tim Curry’s Pennywise didn’t give you some nightmares. He KILLED in that role. There are GENERATIONS of people with coulrophobia because of Tim Curry now. Also, for a TV movie, I think this did a fairly good job. And I’m predisposed to be pretty hard on this movie, as this is my favorite King book. Also, I always loved Richie best, so it made me happy that he was played by a baby Seth Green and then a grownup Harry Anderson, both of whom are very handsome men.
Love the short story. I listened to it on a plane and it scared me so badly I had to turn off the audiobook. And John Cusack! How could this go wrong? Um. In a million, trillion ways, is how. At one point, Cusack enters another dimension where he’s in Antarctica or some such shit, I don’t know (photo above, so you know I didn’t imagine it, although I wish I had.) Also the ghost of his dead daughter is hanging around? It’s all very, very confusing and cheesy and not in the least bit scary.
Oh, Kathy Bates. Thank you for making men scared that women have it in them to tie them to the bed and hobble them because they love them so, so much. Hee. Kathy Bates looks so insanely young in this movie, right? I love her performance in this so much it gives me brain freeze. She’s amazing in this. Her blank looks and her personal world she lives in where Paul LOVES HER DAMMIT make me so happy. It’s not the most faithful adaptation, but it’s a good one.
This series confused me so much I stopped watching after a few episodes. I was so excited! Stephen King had a whole SERIES! And it was so incomprehensible I just sat there for an hour every week thinking, “what is HAPPENING I feel SO STUPID right now.” My favorite memory of this series is one episode where a dead body came back to life without its head, and walked around the hospital looking for its head, set to the song “Where’s Your Head At” by the Basement Jaxx. Loudly. For like five minutes. Just bumbling around, looking for its head. It was like a fever dream on your TV screen once a week. Oh! And also I think there might have been a killer anteater. Obviously the viewers thought it was cuckoo-bananas, too, because it went away. And King every once and a while grumps about how awesome it was and why didn’t American viewers GET IT in interviews. Where’s your head at, Steve.
The Shawshank Redemption
Oh, my. Listen. This movie is just utter, utter perfection, from beginning to end, isn’t it? I always loved the novella – one of my favorite from him – but the movie brought out hidden layers and brought the friendship between Andy and Red to the forefront and the loneliness and the longing and the hope being a thing with feathers. This is one of those movies, if I catch it when flipping channels, I will watch it, no matter what I’m doing, no matter what I have going on. Tim Robbins will always be Andy to me, no matter what he goes on to do. I love him so much in this movie.
Let’s end with this. Now, this wasn’t the best story in the world, overall. It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t the best. This miniseries – well, you’ve got Cousin Balki as the antagonist. You’ve got Joe from Wings as the protagonist. No one could act; the plot was so thin you could drive a semi through parts of it; the special effects were so, so awful – seriously, does anyone remember what the Langoliers looked like, once they actually appeared? Green-screen chattery teeth. It was EMBARRASSING. They looked like something out of a VIDEOGAME. If you couldn’t afford a GOOD videogame and had to get one from the bargain bin at the front of the grocery store or something. And, at the end, the survivors all turned to one another, and laughed, and LEAPT IN THE AIR AND HIGH-FIVED. And then the movie FREEZE-FRAMED. No, I’m not kidding. That was the image the credits rolled over. I watched this with a college friend and we looked at each other and shook our heads at that, all, “really? Just…no.”
Next up, apparently, is a TV adaptation of Under the Dome, and a remake of The Stand, neither of which I have the highest expectations for, to be quite frank, but listen. I’ll be there. I may HATE them, but I’ll be there. Because it’s King, and, much like Google, King owns my soul. My dark, twisty, broken soul.