Hearts in Atlantis
The problem with seeing any movie starring Anthony Hopkins these days is
that you can't help but see him as Hannibal Lecter, gourmet serial killer
to the stars.
So whether he's narrating How The Grinch Stole Christmas "Ô^└Žand the
Whos were joyful and their hearts were glad and their livers were lightly
toasted over an open flame and seasoned with parsley and turnip..truly
delicious." or popping up in Mission: Impossible 2 "Your mission,
Mr.Hunt, is to have your spleen slowly pan seared and served to me with a
side dish of potato gnocchi. Yummy." He's become trapped in his defining
role and shall never escape.
Not that he doesn't try.
His latest attempt to leave the cooking class behind him is Stephen
King's latest "I don't just write horror flicks, I also write moving
tales of lost childhood innocence!" flick, Hearts in Atlantis.
Here's the story. Young boy lives with mean, selfish mom. A man who is
not supposed to be Hannibal Lecter moves in upstairs. Nothing much
happens. The man who is not supposed to be Hannibal Lecter is forced to
leave. Boy rides off into the credits as the narrator says "That was the
last day of my childhood, and the first day of the rest of my life."
It's like a Very Special Episode of Wonder Years.
New rule. No more movies that are supposed to capture the moment that
changed our young lives forever. Been there, done that. This flick's no
There's a catch, of course. At least there's supposed to be a catch. The
Man Who Is Not Hannibal Lecter is supposed to be weird. With visions and
stuff. He can read people's minds. More or less. Not that they ever do
anything with it. I mean it's about as magical as a bowl of Lucky
Charms. There may be some sort of point where the boy appears to get
this strange power from Un-Hannibal, but he doesn't do anything with it
other than win at 3-Card Monty. How hard is that? Unless somebody's
cheating, you've got a 1 in 3 chance if you close your eyes and point.
There are bullies and bad people and everyone grows emotionally and what
not. Blah, blah, blah. They did it better in Stand By Me, which is
really what this film wishes it could be.
Oh sure, Hannibal-Lite gets to say wise things like "Someday you'll kiss
her and it'll be the kiss against which all others are judged."
Whatever, eat somebody already!
How whacked is this production? Consider that Stephen King wrote a book
called Hearts in Atlantis that was really a collection of shorter
stories. Then they went and made a movie called Hearts in Atlantis based
NOT on the story called Hearts in Atlantis, but on two of the other
stories in the book, Low Men in Yellow Coats and Why We're In Veitnam.
So why call it Hearts in Atlantis? Better chance you'll fork over your
The movie is slow. It could have gone much quicker if they'd let The
Specter of Lecter eat some of the more annoying characters, but sadly, he
doesn't. I, for one, would have loved to see him munch down on a burrito
filled with the little boy. His acting was forced and relatively
unbelievable. Not to say that kids are bad or anything, the little girl
is quite good, and the third friend does a smashing impersonation of
River Phoenix from Stand By Me. But the lead? Not even good enough to
be served with a side of curly fries.
Obviously the movie isn't a total loss. It's pretty to look at. It
beats a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. But mainly, it's fun trying
to convince yourself that you're watching Hannibal Lecter. You keep
waiting for him to smile, break a neck, whip out the chopsticks.
Hearts in Atlantis gets 1 3/4 Babylons. I hear they're making a Silence
of the Lambs prequel. Now that'll be cool.
Editor's Note: I can't imagine that the SMC would identify with this
movie even if it were good because I don't think he's ever been an 11
year old boy. Disappointing movie all the same.
Hearts in Atlantis
Directed By: Scott Hicks
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Anton Yelchin, Hope Davis, Mika Boorem, David
Morse and the childhood innocence that Stephen King apparently lost about
45 years back and has been searching for ever since.