Water For Elephants

Have I aged so much that smoldering good looks no longer warm the cockles of my heart? I guess so, at least if that's what Robert Pattinson ("Twilight") is selling. On the other hand the guy seems to be a good sport, e.g., he lets his fellow actors throw pies in his face and generally harass his character when he joins a third-rate traveling circus during this depression-era romance.

I was actually more impressed with the quality of a co-star's work: Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz ("Inglourious Basterds") is absolutely convincing as the owner/manager of that aforementioned circus. His character seems to swing from magnanimous to sadistic, generous to mean. Consequently his wife, played by Reese Wither- spoon ("Penelope"), must walk a fine line that encourages his affections and calms his rages.

This inevitable romantic triangle is almost upstaged by the wonderful elephant Rosie, played by elephant Tai in her screen debut. A couple blink-and-you'll-miss-'em actors zipped across the screen, James Frain ("Everybody's Fine") and Seattle's John Aylward ("Norman"), while Hal Holbrook ("Flying Lessons") has a substantially larger role, playing Pattinson's character in his old age. (This PG-13 movie is in the form of a flashback.)

In keeping with Sara Gruen's best-selling novel of the same name, this film is beautiful to see, the dusty derelict traveling circus looks authentic and Witherspoon's gowns are slinky and attractive. There were times I was convinced it really was her on that elephant; she claims it was. Good for her!

The budget for this project doesn't approach that of Cecil B. DeMille's "Greatest Show on Earth," so we don't have the scope, but it's still interesting to watch how a circus big top was raised and lowered back "in the day." I was glad none of the characters were trapeze artists, those routines always make my hands sweat! Whew!

No profanity, no sweaty bodies, no car chases, no blowie uppie stuff and only one gunshot, which made every single one of us wince.

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Here is a link to a preview:
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