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Water for Elephants
- Director: Francis Lawrence
- Release Date: April 2011
- Run Time: 120
- Genre: Drama
Tagline: Elephants Need Love Too
From the get-go, even the magic of a circus couldn’t rescue this jumbo blunder of a movie. It was the elephant sitting in the middle of a script which people are talking about, just not in a good way. Reese Witherspoon and Rob Pattinson fall short as leads in this hapless animal flick. Animal flicks by and large combine a sparkling, innocent cast with the heartstrings of cute animals. The cast fails here with a kind of dull mixture of cliché and empty smiles over things that are supposed to be cute or heart-felt. Not happening. My problem with the elephant aspect is that I can smell them even if they are just on film. They don’t scare me as much as they are an olfactory turn-off. Maybe if it had been monkeys need water. Just sayin’!
The film comes to us as a screenplay based on a Gruen novel, set in the early 30s. The storyline has an unexplained wrinkle in it: why does a begrieved veterinary student who buries his accidentally killed parents, just when he is on the threshold of passing vet school, end up concluding his personal family business and then joins a second rate traveling circus? I don’t remember finding out why either. Moving on..
I was hoping for more circus glamour, even if it was low-rent, too-much-mascara kind of glitz. But it was not to be. Perhaps had there been more, the patina of Witherspoon playing a bareback rider (good grief this movie could have been HOT) while being married to a first class thug of a ring master would have been more presentable. But unlike Reece riding bareback on her sickly steed, the role and the circus don’t leave the ground in imaginable rendition of cinematic ascent.
Even though Witherspoon and Pattinson are supposed to fall in love, as the story goes, the flash and burn just isn’t there between them as actors. They appear uninspired. And I got impatient waiting for their love to be justifiable. They worked it like escaped convicts from a 1930s Louisiana chaingang, complete with the big iron ball shackled between them. The elephants needed water but this love story needed a shot of something stronger.
The film Water for Elephants does not work because the script is full of gaps, lacking credibility with the viewer as a believable story; and, the acting leads Pattinson and Witherspoon did not show up. I give this film a 2 out of 10. Wait for it to come out at the bargain bin at Office Depot.