The best part about director Andy Muschietti's It Chapter Two is that it's not heading for a third.

Whoever had the bright idea to turn the Stephen King tome into a two-part movie probably thought they had a blockbuster on their hands. The story, after all, is a fantastic representation of how the King of Horror can take our childhood fears and celebrations and melt them into the lingering terror of adulthood. But this interpretation does it very little justice. The same sharp crayon probably also made the poor call that this timed-for-Halloween release should clock in at just under three hours.

It begins 27 years after Chapter One, and the scary clown that ate up the children of Derry, Maine, is apparently back and in need of another ass kicking.

The second best part is that the movie is actually funny. The first half even soars as the audience can't decide whether to gasp (at the shocking opening gambit that is, in fact, how the book begins) or to giggle as the Losers Club comes back together. The same potty humor from the child version of Richie Tozer (Finn Wolfhard, Stranger Things) that had us snorting back laughter in the first chapter shows up in the right doses, and the timing between the adult players (Bill Hader as Richie and James Ranson as Eddie Kasbrack in particular) creates a snappy, sustained goof. King's own cameo is a hoot, replete with a snotty attitude about his ever-present, semi-autobiographical writer character. In this case, it's Bill Denbrough (James McAvoy, X-Men), who can't seem to write a proper ending to a story to save his life.  What's supposed to be more than a sizzle of romance between he and the gang's only girl (the grown up version of Beverly Marsh portrayed by a mostly blank faced Jessica Chastain) produces only minor heat. We love what's emanating from Jay Ryan as grown-up Ben Hapscomb, though.

We're not sticklers for every book-based plot to remain true to its pages, but this one veered too far off—especially the end, when it finally arrives. Even as the Creepshow antics provide plenty of the jump scares we came for and drippy, pop-eyed and gross creatures undertake unthinkable maneuvers, there are long scenes during which the whole thing takes itself too seriously.  We guess if you saw the first one, you should see it through. But, don't worry about getting back into the theater so fast when you take a bathroom break. It's fine.

5
+Great laugh lines
-Way too long

IT Chapter Two
Directed by Andy Mushietti
With Hader and Ranson
Violet Crown, Regal
R, 169 mins.