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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Five Things I HATE About The Stand (the movie, not the book)

I was lucky enough to have power during Frankenstormicane Sandy (other than a couple of blips), but it was raining a monsoon with 50mph winds so I was housebound for quite a stretch there. I decided to re-watch "The Stand" on Netflix, since I'm re-reading it for about the bazillionth time (I got the extended edition on my Kindle - if you haven't read it, you really should).

I realize this was originally a mini-series, which puts it in an entirely different realm than a major motion picture, but overall, I like it. I just wish they'd go back and re-make it, changing a few things. Before I get to those, let me tell you what I wouldn't change:

Gary Sinise as Stu Redman. Awesome. Perfect. He is Stu. Rob Lowe as Nick. Never would have thought to cast him, but he was brilliant. Charismatic, humble, and all without saying a word till he was dead. Matt Frewer as Trashcan Man. Outstanding. Ray Walston as Glen - spot on. Loved them all. Bill Fagerbakke gets an honorable mention as Tom Cullen, because he was really well cast. I just can't hear him open his mouth and not hear Patrick Star from Spongebob Squarepants, unfortunately.

And now for the five things that really irked me about this adaptation:

1) Harold Lauder. Someone needed to send director Mick Garris back to school and have him re-take Embrassing Caricatures 101. Harold with his nasally voice, greased-up hair, pocket protector, painted-on acne and highwater pants - it was all just too much. I see Harold as more of a misunderstood gamer-type. The book has him a bit pudgy in the beginning, and I wish they'd stuck with that. The beauty of Harold is his transformation (both good and bad). There's a point when he's in Boulder that he's working on the work crew and losing weight and gaining the respect of everyone he's working with that Harold very nearly ends up being a decent guy. I thought that was an important bit to leave in, and would have really fleshed out the character.

2) Molly Ringwald as Frannie. Hrmmm. I like Molly Ringwald, I really do. She was just not the right fit here. She reads too young, and she just didn't have the guts and pluck that book Frannie has. She also had zero chemistry with Gary Sinise.

3) Combining the Rita and Nadine characters. Talk about smushing opposites together! These two characters were light-years apart and both stories deserved to be told. Rita was a hard-edged New York society maven fading out of her prime, and Nadine was younger with a vulnerability about her that pulls at you. Stuffing them into one person made Nadine way too harsh and grating. I always saw Halle Berry in my mind's eye when I read Nadine. Soft, a bit sad, serene. We lost all of that.

4) Lloyd Henreid. The book has him as a small-time, somewhat dim good-ole-boy sidekick to a local yokel criminal with a sadistic streak. Lloyd screams "gap-toothed and somewhat interbred" to me, so when they put in Miguel Ferrer and he ends up looking like Scarface's younger brother, it just didn't make sense. This isn't some smooth mafioso we're talking about. This is Lloyd. Beer swigging, rat-eating Lloyd.

5) Randall Flagg. I realize this movie is a product of it's era. Still, did anyone envision Randall Flagg - the dark man, the hard case, the ultimate bogeyman -  as a would be singer in a bad metal hair band, walking the dark streets in his acid-wash jeans? And the special effects! Yikes! Claymation devil faces melting above me had me screaming in laughter, not fear. I liked the smooth, oozy charm with a subtle layer of menace that Jamey Sheridan brought to the role, but I needed him a bit darker, a bit more what's-he-going-to-do-now. I never felt that. The IMDB trivia section for this movie says that Jeff Goldblum was a contender for the role. Holy cow, would he have nailed it. Too bad it didn't go that way.

So that's my "What the crap were they thinking?" movie review for The Stand. Check it out on Netflix, if you haven't already. It's worth the watch, in spite of its flaws.

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