Friday, November 18

Harry Potter and Curse of Adolescence

Mild, but negligible, spoilers ahead.

Man, the theater was a bubbly brew of teenage hormones last night. We got there a reasonable 15 minutes early, and were stuck in the fourth row near the wall because it was packed out. The cool thing about the superfan crowd, though, is that even if every single seat is filled (and I think they were), no one is going to talk during the movie, and no one's cell phone is going to ring. Because that's how seriously this crowd takes Harry Potter. The more enthusiastic of us even clap and "Woo!" during the title screen and credits. (I'm not that enthusiastic, but I admire those who are.) I was actually disappointed that I didn't see a single costume. I thought for sure somebody would be there in a quiddich jersey or something, but nope.

The film itself was good. Personally, I think I like Cuaron's quirky direction of the third installment more than Newell's direction of this one, though they are both improvements over the first two. I kept thinking there was something undeniably MTV-ified about this one, and that maybe the director had done music videos before or something (there are some sequences that play like pop videos with backup dancers). But then I looked around at the audience and realized that this movie did a superb job of mirroring its audience and their aesthetic tastes. I'm getting older and suddenly youth, on screen and in reality, looks less and less like me and my peers and more and more like some undecipherable, unapproachable, messy-haired, super self-aware clique. And I'm cool with that. I think the guys-with-shaggy-hair trend is endearing anyway. Ah, Rupert Grint, you stole my heart with your wounded-dog pouting. And Daniel Radcliffe, I'm counting the days until you turn 18, you little heartthrob, you.

The sexual overtones in this one were unmistakable. Double entendres clung everywhere, as did fabric to young, supple bosoms. Hee. Sorry for that sentence. I had to. Seriously, though, the camera had its male gaze going in full force. But that's part of the narrative: the protagonist and his best friend are horny teenagers.

And, having done a queer reading of Harry Potter for one of my classes a couple of years ago, I was prepared to detect homoeroticism, of which there was plenty. I still think you could make a convincing case that Ron and Harry are in love. Or at least that Ron is is love with Harry.

There were a few unsettling scenes that made me cringe (there always are) not out of suspense or fear, but out of embarrassment. One of the disliked characters gets turned into a ferret, so there's a few minutes of people getting squicked out by a ferret as it makes unnatural chattering noises and goes down someone's pants. And then later, there's a dead ferret hanging over the belt of one of the (I guess he's supposed to be Scottish) characters. That made me sad. Ferrets don't get any respect, damn it.

And then there was a scene where Harry was taking a bath and a ghost kept trying to look at his junk through the water. It was kind of weird and pedophilic, because the ghost looked like she was about 35 (though I think she's supposed to be a kid ghost). Oh yes, and there's a middle-aged gossip reporter who also lends a sexualized discomfort to her interactions with the younger boys. Perhaps placing all those precarious examples of female sexuality throughout the film is a clever way (for Rowling or Newell, I'm not sure who) to communicate Harry's treacherous internal battle with adolescence. That has to be it, or else it's just fucking creepy.

And there were the obligatory clunky dialogue scenes. The one that sticks in my mind is when Hermione gets all gussied up for the ball and comes down the stairs and one of the other girls looks up in awe and gasps, "She's beautiful!" I just kept thinking show, don't tell, show don't tell but it wouldn't make the scene go away. And Daniel Radcliffe still struggles with awkward delivery of certain lines and an inability to act naturally with his mouth, but these are things that can be forgiven, because these are just kids.

One thing I don't understand about this series (and this could be because I haven't read all the books) is Harry's status as a prodigy. So far, all we have seen of Harry is that he was born with greatness; so far he's shown no real aptitude for or knowledge of magic. When he figures things out, it's usually with a hefty dose of help from his more studious friends. This is kind of neat because it makes him the antithesis of most super heroes — he is completely confused and completely fallible, and relies on those around him to do whatever it is that makes him so awed. But he has heart. It's every kid's fantasy: Be my quirky self but possess popularity and have eternal glory just for being me. Damn, Rowling is a marketing genius!

Anyway, I'll definitely go see it again. The drive-in is playing a Harry Potter/Walk the Line double feature this weekend. Phil's got a couple of free tickets. We'll bundle up and take the lawnchairs and sit out under the stars for about two minutes until the cold chases us back into the car.


Blogger phallicpen said...

Mrs. What's-her-name would be so proud of you. God, I miss her.

Craig and I saw Jesus is Magic at a theater with an early showing of Harry Potter. The kids were given goody bags with wands and round, black glasses, so we got to see some costume action. These kids were little, though. Is it okay to fly a sex joke over a toddler's head when it's just so damn spongy? I've watched my favorite childhood movies as an adult and can't detect any sexual undertones. Only embarassing, overdramatic displays of emotion and adventure.

Sat Nov 19, 10:26:00 AM  
Blogger theogeo said...

Oooh, tell me about Jesus is Magic!

Sat Nov 19, 11:48:00 AM  

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