A Spoiler-Free Review of the Balloons in IT: Chapter 2
Last Friday night, my wife and I got in the car and drove to our favorite movie theatre. This is a bit of a routine of ours when a big movie lands, and we had tickets to one of the biggest: a 7pm showing of IT: Chapter 2. As the sun set, I reflected back on the film’s first chapter and tried to refamiliarize myself with the plot. Having read the book, it didn’t matter that I’d only seen the movie once. The story came floating back. And so I entered the theatre that night, like most, excited to see what the director had in store for the next installment.
I had very specific questions:
- How would this deviate from King’s vision?
- How were they going to bring everyone back to Derry all these years later?
- Who pops and who does not? Do they all survive?
- Will they still be red, or will they experiment with different colors?
- Perhaps most importantly, how many balloons do they manage to fit on screen at one time?
The Gang's All Back Together!
First and foremost, let me assure you: the entire gang is back together. Every balloon you saw in the first film appears in the second film [audible phew]. Director Andy Muschietti does a great job anchoring the audience within the first few minutes. All your favorites are there: Stuttering red balloon. Foulmouthed red balloon. She-balloon. I think this was a really smart choice on Muschietti’s part. It’s not easy working with an ensemble cast, but it’s important to bring the audience right back to the feeling of the first film. The transition, even two years later, needs to feel seamless.
They Brought Some Friends
Muschietti is smart though. He knows that Chapter 2 needs to crank up the dial. The Losers’ Club is older now. Grown-up. Stronger than they’ve ever known (and they don’t), so every element of the film needs to reflect that. I don’t want to spoil a particularly amazing scene, but let’s just say, I’m betting more than one intern passed out after blowing up so so so many balloons. How many balloons did this one scene have? Assume you hated all the whales in the entire world.
Of course, everyone’s favorite homophobic knife enthusiast, Henry Bowers, is back. He’s older now. And while his frans all died in Chapter 1, Muschietti has seen fit to give him a new sidekick. Newcomer, Peak-a-Balloon, made their debut performance alongside Bowers this weekend. I wasn’t terribly impressed with their performance, but I’d be willing to see what they’re capable of when given a script more in line with their skill set.
Richie Tozier vs. Pennywise
It’s hard to describe this scene without giving away too much. Bill Hader is famous for his improvisational skills, and it would seem the balloons in this scene took a page out of his script. Things do not float the way you expect them to. In my opinion, the risk paid off.
Any Stephen King fan worth their salt knows that Pennywise is a shapeshifter that loves to play with his size. The climax of Chapter 2 is no exception. The film features one of the largest balloons I have ever seen on screen. I’m not sure if it was puppetry or CGI but I cannot imagine that what I saw was real. And maybe that’s OK. I shudder to think of what someone might do if they ever got their hands on that much helium. For now, I’m content seeing a gag like that tucked safely behind the silver screen.
I give IT: Chapter 2 four balloons out of five.
If you're looking for more balloon recommendations, be sure to check out Pixar's UP for its comedic and heartwarming performances. If you're interested in something a little darker, the dirigible from The Mummy Returns is often cited for its radical commitment to method acting. It paid off in the final cut of the movie, but at what cost?
For discounted horror reads, check out our current Quirk Perks for IT September.
J. B. Kish grew up in the American Southwest and spent most of his childhood concocting strange stories with spooky monsters. Now, he lives in the Pacific Northwest and has begun publishing those childhood nightmares for others. He is the author of two novels, including the paranormal thriller A Wall for Teeth and Stingers, which takes place in both Arizona and Oregon. He has the same birthday as Captain Kathryn Janeway, which is a thing he takes very seriously. Probably too seriously.