Seldom has a film disparaged the state of virginity as much as does this lethargically paced and often inane paean to thwarted post-pubescent horniness. Believe me, chastity can be fun. Ask Doris Day. She knew how to do celibacy right. Kristen Stewart doesn't.
With Day, after 50 dates and a wedding ring, you knew you'd wind up with a luscious fruit salad. Here was a woman worth marrying just to imbibe on her peachy sweetness. Stewart, on the other hand, is a moping prune that someone just discovered on the kitchen floor. Dusty and unappetizing. One-note. Tasteless. Irritating.
Stewart plays the heroine Bella Swan, a teenage girl living with her divorced dad, Charlie (Billy Burke), in Forks, Washington, where she moved from Phoenix, Arizona, in film one.
(Having unfortunately not read the bestselling novels by Stephanie Meyer, which I hear are quite fun and addictive, my reactions are limited to what's been unspooled on theater screens.)
In Twilight (2008), Bella falls for the King of Wan, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), who turns out to be a very nice vampire, which means he doesn't feast on that delicious fluid of life that throbs through every human's veins with such an exotic pull. He settles for animal hemoglobin.
What a waste! Who can forget when Anne Rice's Louis told Lestat, "I never knew what life was until it ran out in a red gush over my lips, my hands!"?
Oh, well, those were the good old days and the good old vampires.
Here Edward and Bella just like to moon about each other, sort of like a Romeo and a Juliet recovering from overexposure to chloroform. Then suddenly Edward realizes he's no good for this human lass, so he and his family move away.
This departure causes the camera to go in circles around and around and around Bella, who's sitting in a chair. With each sweep, time passes and your own nausea grows. Finally, Bella decides to give her butt a rest, leave her house, and fall in love with Jacob (Taylor Lautner), a boy who's a werewolf.
Now this is the highlight of the film. Well, at least Lautner's chest is. When Jacob lifts up his shirt over his head, at the screening I attended, an audible gasp of awe came out of each audience member's mouth, both male and female, straight and gay. Happily, this chest, which is a great argument for an Oscar category for Best Body Parts, is seen throughout the rest of the movie.
Pecs aside, New Moon comes across as nothing more than a dozen perfume commercials connected by nature footage. Its message: Horny boys are either after your blood or your flesh. They are dangerous creatures, so drive them crazy by almost kissing them. Get your lips very close and then change your mind over and over again.
Of course, this series could have been a great artistic triumph if anyone cared. Nobody did, and does it matter? At twelve or so, I had the biggest crush on Annette Funicello. Believe me when I swear Muscle Beach Party and Beach Blanket Bingo were worth every cent of my allowance. So to hell with the critics. Go to Twilight, and let your hormonal fluids have a blast. - Brandon Judell
Mr. Judell is featured in Rosa von Praunheim's forthcoming documentary New York Memories. In the spring, he'll be teaching "The Image of the Jew in Post-World War II European Cinema" and "Gay and Lesbian Literature" at The City College of New York. He has written on film for The Village Voice, indieWire, Detour, and The Advocate, and is anthologized in Cynthia Fuchs's Spike Lee Interviews (University Press of Mississippi).