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PCR #500 (Vol. 10, No. 43). This edition is for the week of October 19--25, 2009.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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"Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant"  by Mike Smith
First a Word About My House .... Happy 500th Issue Nolan! ... The Fabulous Architecture of the Tampa Bay Region- Part 11  by William Moriaty
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The Great Fox Distraction From The Real War .... Now We Have Maoists .... 1500?!?! .... Up In The Sky...it's A Giant Muffin .... .... .... ....  by Brandon Jones
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Brody .... Passing On .... Introducing The A-team .... Happy 500! .... .... .... .... .... My Favorite Films, Part 2  by Mike Smith
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Starring: John C. Reilly, Ken Watanabe and Salma Hayek
Directed by: Paul Weitz
Rated: PG 13
Running Time: 1 hour 49 mins

You can tell Halloween is near by the movies hitting your local movie-plex. Of course the latest “Saw” film is just around the corner (here’s a hint – if you keep going to them they’ll keep making them) and the low budget “Paranormal Activity” is scaring people in droves. But I’m going to go out on a limb here and say the best this season has to offer is “Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant.”

Darren Shan (Chris Massoglia) and Steve (Josh Hutcherson) are best friends, and have been since they were kids. Now in high school they seem to be going their separate ways. Steve is a free spirit with a home life that can best be described as shaky. Darren’s parents continue to spell out his life goals: College! Job! Money! Both boys have secret passions. Darren is enamored of spiders while Steve has a jones for vampires. So imagine both boy’s good fortune when they come across a flyer advertising a good old fashioned freak show!

Based on the popular “Cirque du Freak” stories written by none other than Darren Shan,
the script is written by two of Hollywood’s best: director Weitz (“About a Boy”) and Oscar winner Brian Helgeland (“L.A. Confidential,” “Mystic River”). Together they have crafted a world that both intrigues and amuses. The freaks that comprise the circus are a family, and each has their own story, which is good because there aren’t many left. In fact, they are referred to tongue-in-cheek as the last of the mo-freakins. Star of the show is the mysterious Crepsley (Reilly), a vampire who is two hundred years into a mid-life crisis. He has caught the eye of the bearded lady (Hayek) but is still broken hearted from his last romantic break-up, the one that took place in 1802! In an effort to help Steve, Darren volunteers to be Crepsley’s assistant, which necessitates the need to become a vampire. Or, to be more precise, a half-vampire. Darren seems excited at the prospect, though loses some enthusiasm when he finds out that real vampires don’t turn into bats. “No,” says Crepsley, "that is B S." Both boys do good work, especially Massoglia who resembles Rick Springfield, circa 1974. The rest of the cast does equally well, including Hayek, the appropriately named Mr. Tall (Watanabe), Broadway’s Michael Cerveris as Mr. Tiny and “Almost Famous’” Patrick Fugit as the spooky Evra the snake boy. The atmosphere is perfectly set thanks to photographer J. Michael Muro and music composer Stephen Trask.

A perfect companion for Halloween, on a scale of zero to four I give “Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant”


This week's movie review of "Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant" is ©2009 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2009, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2009 by Nolan B. Canova.