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Cinematic Cotton Candy

Movie Title: The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009)
Spoilers: No

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Feeding your child nothing but cotton candy is sure to spoil them and work against their health. What will spoil them, but will do no lasting damage is the audacious sequel to Twilight, The Twilight Saga: New Moon, directed by Chris (“Down to Earth” 2001) Weitz. Like Twilight before it, New Moon is in the line of stories by now staggeringly famous author Stephanie Meyer.

It’s a good thing Meyer doesn’t know it, since she could amass all the teens in the world into one unbeatable army of devoted followers who would fight to the death at her command. Every 8 seconds, a Meyer fan is made.

Here is a second movie that will have greater pull than the first one. It will confirm the scrambled sentiments and “nobody understands me” attitude of every antisocial 13-year-old in the world. This includes but is not limited to those who wear black lipstick and tongue rings. But lest we forget, New Moon provides a phenomenally engaging and supernaturally charged teen love story that for the first hour I thought was approaching perfection for a work of its genre.

Both Twilight and New Moon are films that glow as examples of what happens when you successfully target an audience. Fandango’s Box Office Release states that New Moon and Twilight are in the top five wide releases. New Moon tops its forerunner with a domestic weekend box office gross of $140.7 million and beats out “The Dark Knight” with the biggest ever single-day gross ($72.7 million).

Teen vampire flicks are this generation’s 90210, but in this case, is bigger and better and tailored so that many a lonely middle-aged housewife can revel in the fantasies that they once thought would never be about anyone else but Fabio. I suppose that shouldn’t be too surprising.

What certainly is not surprising is that every schoolgirl is writhing in the fantasy of being Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart). The girls identify with her. They see themselves as her, the guys with Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) and Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), the guy who makes the love triangle complete…together with the dark sky, the bad dreams, and the withdrawn, antisocial behavior. They get by the adults, but every one of those details hits a sweet spot if you’re still in school. How easily we forget.

The older teen boys, they will spend an extra few hours in the gym as they envision themselves “buffing up” to look as good as these heartbreakers by next summer. And even the eternally un-tanned who are too behind the curve to ever care about their bodies can get lost in a super-softcore prepubescent erotica that will wet more than one kind of lips—and further encourage their not talking to peers, parents, or counselors about their problems or their haggard self-images.

As before, Bella’s father Charlie Swan (Billy Burke) is in and out. She barely talks to her dad. He’s there as a stand-in parental figure that is as clueless and uninvolved as the vast majority of the young audience members wish their parents were. Home is just a place to change clothes these days, and that is only one element that makes this movie a picture-perfect example of the obliviously dysfunctional modern family.

That said, it wouldn’t matter, not to the kids and possibly not to the parents. New Moon is irresistible to its kind, suggestive, but never lewd. It doesn’t cross the line into being raunchy. It lets the imagination do everything, hence, its success.

No question that this film hits higher marks than the previous one. The action is nicely executed. No cheesy scenes of scampering up trees. The script is tighter, providing a meaningful story, and a dialogue that speaks to most of us. It will hit you right between the eyes, regardless of your age—right up until the second half of the movie, that is.

Then, it loses it as the story becomes muddled in its own belching fullness, with its content enough for three movies, crunched painfully into one. At that point, it’s too heavy on the vampire makeup and the shirtless guys. Suddenly, nothing means as much. The congestive “wolf” storyline could never be smoothed out. Better had it not been included.

For non-Twilight fans, the impelling story will be insufficient when standing next to the Methuselah-aged runtime of the movie, which is longer than a door-slamming pout-bout of a rejected junior high drama-queen.

New Moon may not bowl a 300, but this is how you do a teenage action-drama-love story. That much is beyond doubting. The marks are high enough for the fans—and perhaps then some (as much as a part of me hates to admit it).

(JH)

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Grade: B- (3 stars)
Rated: PG-13
Director: Chris Weitz
Summation: After Bella recovers from the vampire attack that almost claimed her life, she begins a new chapter with Edward.
Starring: Kristen Stewart “Bella Swan,” Christina Jastrzembska “Gran / Bella,” Robert Pattinson “Edward Cullen,” Billy Burke “Charlie Swan,” Anna Kendrick “Jessica,” Michael Welch “Mike,” Justin Chon “Eric,” Christian Serratos “Angela,” Taylor Lautner “Jacob Black,” Ashley Greene “Alice Cullen,” Jackson Rathbone “Jasper Whitlock”
Genre: Drama / Fantasy / Horror / Romance / Thriller
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