Cirque du Freak
Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant is, I’m certain, the first of several films that will help take vampires from their current status as emo-hunks with sensitive sides, and send them down a shame spiral where they’ll hit rock bottom, and be forced to stay in hiding until someone reinvents them again. Seriously, this film is a mess.
Freak is based on a young adult book series of the same name. It’s the first in a planned trilogy, and unapologetically so. It’s as if writer/director Paul Weitz was attempting to use The Secret: just act like there will be two other installments, and even if the film sucks, it’ll happen. I predict the other films will never be made, and for good reason. This, strangely enough, happened to Weitz’ brother Chris Weitz who tried, unsuccessfully, to make a trilogy out of His Dark Materials, but was shut down after The Golden Compass was poorly received.
John C. Reilly plays Larten Crepsley, a two hundred year old vampire spearheading the oldest continuous freak show in the western hemisphere, Cirque du Freak. The show is made up of lots of weirdos that range from Corna Limbs (Jane Krakowski), who can grow her arms back after amuptation, to Madame Truska (Selma Hayek), who grows a thick beard when aroused, to Evra the Snake Boy (Patrick Fugit) who has green scales instead of skin. Two normal best friends in high school, Darren (Chris Massoglia) and Steve (Josh Hutcherson), who have weird obsessions with spiders and vampires, come across a flier for the event and decide to attend. The two then get recruited to different sides of a war between vampires (who don’t kill their victims when feeding) and the vampenese (those who do kill), pitting one best friend against the other!
Reilly proves, once again, that he is just not leading man material. His comedic timing was never good, and without Will Farrell to carry him, it’s just an aggravating performance. The script doesn’t do anyone any favors either. Every corny cliche in the book was pulled out for Freak. Even Hayek, playing Reilly’s love interest, who proved she is funny in last season’s 30 Rock was bland (and in what world, even in a world of freaks, would Selma Hayek date John C. Reilly?). The poor character development and undeveloped attempts at zaniness, can mostly be traced back to Weitz, who wrote the scripts for both About a Boy, and The Nutty Professor II: The Klumps. Since this is his first attempt to make a film without the help of his brother, it may be safe to assume he’s not the one who has the talent in this duo. The Vampire’s Assistant is one of the worst films of the year.