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Harley Lond's Movie Reviews (12)

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Water for Elephants 
Water for Elephants
3/4 stars

Devastated by the sudden death of his parents at the height of the Great Depression, a young dreamer from the wrong side of the tracks, Jacob Jankowski (Robert Pattinson), abandons his veterinary studies at Cornell University and -- of all things -- joins the circus. Hired as a veterinarian to care for the animals of The Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth, Jacob works his way into the hearts and minds of the troupe. But when he falls in love with the star attraction, Marlena (Reese Witherspoon), who just happens to be the wife of the circus's owner -- the violent and abusive August (Christoph Waltz) -- Jacob makes a fatal decision that changes his life and the lives of everyone around him. Ah, finally, an old-fashioned Hollywood movie for a year that has seen nothing but rauncy bathroom humor comedies and comic book superhero sagas. Sara Gruen's best-selling circus novel has been lovingly adapted for the big screen -- with painstaking attention to detail and realism by director Francis Lawrence and screenwriter Richard LaGravenese. Their hard work in recreating the 1930s and a real-life circus has paid off with an eminently viewable and enjoyable movie -- pure, pretension-less entertainment from beginning to end. You've got good guys, bad guys, love, suspense, humor, action, violence -- and animals (Rosie the elephant, to be precise). The acting is first rate -- Witherspoon is the ultimate American girl, circa 1930, while Waltz is the perfect nasty villain. And say what you will about Pattinson's white-faced performances in the "Twilight" films, the youngster has talent, carrying the film from beginning to end. This movie is a real pleasant surprise -- and definitely not a white "Elephant."

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