Think Twice Before Drinking The ‘Water For Elephants’

I have to say I was totally psyched to see this movie after reading the book.  Why you ask?  Because it involves some of my favorite things in life, and if only for 2 hours, I was finally able to run away with the circus!  First of all, who doesn’t love the circus?  Do you remember being at the circus begging your parents for cotton candy, candy apples, peanuts to feed the elephants, and watching all those clowns climb out of that car?  How did they all fit in there?  Secondly, who doesn’t love a romantic and dangerous adventure?  A knight in shining armor rescuing a girl from an evil villain.  Who doesn’t hope for that fairy tale happy ending?  And we all know a good cry can cleanse the soul.  Finally, Robert Pattinson’s transition from Vamp to Vet was something I did not want to miss.  And I wasn’t going to.

I love the idea of the 1930 depression era period piece, adapted from author Sara Gruen’s best selling novel and directed by Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend).  This is Francis Lawrence’s first time directing a love story, and in my opinion he should stick to directing music videos.  Enough said.

The beginning of the movie is actually the ending of the book.  An elderly Jacob Jankowski (Hal Holbrook), who escaped from the nursing home to see the circus, is standing outside of the ticket booth.  However, he is too late.  The show is over.  A circus worker (Paul Schneider) sees Jacob, instantly takes to him and wants to hear the story of his own circus life.  This begins the narration of the movie with Hal Holbrook’s voice and then switches to Robert Pattinson’s voice.  Personally, I think it would have been better to continue with Hal Holbrook especially with the limited narration there was.

The story begins with a young Jacob Jankowski (Robert Pattinson) about to take his final exam in veterinary medicine at Cornell; he receives the devastating news that his parents have been killed in an automobile accident. Left alone with nothing, Jacob runs away from his barren life and finds himself aboard a circus train with the Benzini Brothers, a second rate traveling circus trying to survive the depression.  Eventually Jacob is hired on as the circus vet and is forced to put down their main attraction, Silver the horse.  Marlena (Reese Witherspoon) the star performer starts to become infatuated with Jacob after this.  Once Rosie (Tai the elephant) is purchased to be the new star, Jacob and Marlena come together over the common bond they have in her.  Marlena is in an abusive marriage to August (Christopher Waltz) the ringmaster.  He loves her but is extremely jealous of anyone who comes close to her. After August tries to destroy Jacob and Marlena, she decides to run away with Jacob.  Without giving too much away, I can at least say that this movie does have a happy ending.

Okay, with all that being said, I was really disappointed in this movie.  I thought it would have been another Notebook kind of film.  You have to remember that I’m a female writing this.  I didn’t feel a connection between Jacob and Marlena  With all the hype I heard about their chemistry, I was really expecting to become attached to them.  When Jacob’s parents died, I saw the very apparent struggle for him to show emotion ,which makes one have no empathy for his loss.  When it came to Rosie, you can truly tell Pattinson genuinely loves this animal, but it was lost on the human characters.  I have been a fan of Robert Pattinson’s ever since I saw the first Twilight movie, but after watching this I was left wondering maybe with better direction he could have pulled off this role.  Or was this roll simply too big for him?  As for Reese Witherspoon’s performance, again I was disappointed.  She did not draw me in, I should have felt sorry for her being in an abusive relationship, but it just wasn’t there for me.  I would have liked to have seen Marlena be flirtier with Jacob, since we can’t be sure when they intended the audience to feel the attraction begin.  Now Christopher Waltz on the other hand, gave a great performance.  I feel like he was the only one who brought it.  He was the only actor I felt something for…true hatred.  I was happy by the fact that at least I felt something in this movie.

All in all, I would watch it again, however if you are looking for a 5-star performance, you aren’t going to find it here.  Move along.


6 Responses to “Think Twice Before Drinking The ‘Water For Elephants’”

  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    Had me worried there for a second, based on the title, but you enjoyed the movie overall, so good.

    I’m seeing it tonight and I read the book prior, but have heard mixed things so far. Hoping to like it, but at least Christoph Waltz is around to make me happy.

  2. Gerard Iribe

    Is this the new film based on a Nicholas Sparks book?

  3. NR

    At the movies, going to see Water for elephants w Reese Witherspoon my beloved Robert Pattinson Short review later!

  4. Aaron Neuwirth

    haha, you’d think that given its poster and tv spots. I get a much more specific vibe from the trailer, which I’ll talk about in my review

  5. Brian White

    Here’s my initial impressions that I told Mary before she saw this last night…

    I never read the book…

    However, I’m sure there is a great love story to be told here. Just my love of animals is enough to solidify that in my mind.

    BUT…Robert Pattinson? Yuck! Horrible casting choice! Give me someone else!

    I don’t think this flick has enough commercial appeal to ever appeal to the masses and as a result I feel it would be a bore, just going by the initial trailer alone.

  6. Aaron Neuwirth

    You don’t think a film based on a New York Times Bestseller, starring one of the biggest current heartthrobs in the world, and also featuring two Oscar winning leads, that’s rated PG-13 and suitable for pretty much anyone can appeal to the masses?