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Wednesday, October 08, 2008


***** Terry Pratchett's Hogfather. Fantasy.

Directed by: Vadim Jean.

Starring: David Jason, Marc Warren, Michelle Dockery, Ian Richardson

I bought this as soon as it came out on Region 1 DVD, and boy, was it worth the wait.

If you haven't read the book (and I really recommend you do--not just so you'll enjoy the movie more, but because it's so good), here's the story:

On the Discworld, the Hogfather (think Santa) has gone missing, and Death (Ian Richardson) takes over, with the help of the faithful Albert (David Jason). Death's granddaughter Susan (Michelle Dockery) sets out to find the Hogfather. And the Auditors have hired the assassin Teatime (
"Tee-ah tim-eh, most people get it wrong, Sir.") to kill the Hogfather.

But all this has caused a ripple in the fabric of reality, and strange things are happening. The funniest is that anthropomorphic personifications are popping into existence--things like the "oh god" of hangovers, and the Verruca gnome. This gets the wizards involved, and they consult their computer HEX (it has a sticker saying "anthill inside").

Many of the reviews said the movie isn't as funny as the book, and that's true in the same way that "The Dresden Files" TV series wasn't as funny as the books, and for the same reason: a lot of the humor in both depends on making connections in your head between what's on the page and what you know, and that doesn't translate all that well to the screen. Regardless, it's still funny and it follows the book very well.

Which means that it's not dumbed down or turned into a cutesy comedy for children. Hogfather definitely has its dark side, which makes the bright side that much brighter in comparison. You have to have the dark to have convincing light, and Pratchett understands that. And Vadim Jean understands Pratchett.

The best thing about the movie version of Hogfather is that it all just works perfectly. It's a visual treat--bright colors, clean, uncluttered scenes, amazingly inventive sets (like the Tooth Fairy's castle), and clear action. The casting is inspired. Marc Warren is delightfully creepy as Teatime, and I was blown away by Michelle Dockery's portrayal of Susan. I'm so happy about that one, because Susan is my favorite Discworld character.

I would say you should read the book first, or at least have read some Discworld books so you'll know what's going on, but I was the only one in the family who'd read Hogfather before, and everyone else enjoyed it anyway, even Carl, who's never read any Discworld books.

And hey, maybe the movie will convince you to read the books.

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If the book or movie is half as good as your review...which had me giggling...it must be awesome.
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