Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Review: The House with the Clock in Its Walls

We went to see The House with the Clock in Its Walls. It's a great movie if you like the kiddie genre of creepy movies. Great special effects. Some pretty clever magical stuff. The level of violence is stylized, spooky slapstick and crude juvenile humor. Hilarious banter between characters. They actively celebrate weirdness and negotiate its relation to wider society.  Now on to the really good stuff, which contains some spoilers ...

What really stole my heart, though, is the relationship dynamics. Two relationships that would typically be pitched as romantic were explicitly and canonically declared as platonic with "no kissyface stuff." Those are Jonathan Barnavelt & Florence Zimmerman, and Lewis Barnavelt & Rose Rita Pottinger. The nature of the relationships, including the kiddie courtship gestures, are also explictly platonic. While not explicitly cited as sapiosexual, all the hallmarks for that are in there too, and Jonathan quite admiringly describes Florence as "smart." It's adorable. There's a past platonic relationship between Jonathan Barnavelt and Isaac Izard. Also the House likes Lewis, which can reasonably be considered a human/nonhuman platonic relationship. There's an attempted friendship between Lewis Barnavelt and Tarby Corrigan, which falls apart. The only active hetero sexual/romantic relationship is between Isaac and Serena Izard, who are evil but seem to have quite a happy marriage. Past references are made to Jonathan's parents, Lewis' parents, and Florence's husband and daughter -- all probably hetero sexual/romantic. But the main emphasis is on the platonic relationships, and several of the characters have gone through more than one primary relationship of completely different types. If you add it all up, the platonic ones actually outweigh the sexual/romantic ones, especially if you look at current rather than past examples. As a bonus, the inevitable demise of the villains doesn't cut out the only platonic relationship because there are other current ones, not just the past Jonathan & Isaac one.

Also amusing: Florence's signature color is purple. Her past relationship is not covered in exhaustive detail. So if you wanted to, you could interpret it as an ace couple who got together because they wanted kids, which is a thing that happens. No bending of stipulated details required, just filling in the blanks a different way. I hold that her signature color, coupled with the platonic specification, makes this particularly plausible.

If you want to know what the relationship dynamics of a Terramagne movie would look like, that's pretty much it. And if you're looking for a movie that has sweet relationships without the presumption of allo sexual/romantic normativity, here it is. Highly recommended.
Tags: entertainment, family skills, fantasy, gender studies, humor, review
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