Water for Elephants Needs More Paul Schneider and Less Robert Pattinson

Water for Elephants falls in the grand line of star vehicles designed to pull back the curtain on the Hollywood sausage-making process just enough to remind audiences that stars--particularly the fresh, young, fuckable variety--are totally awesome.

This story of "pretty much the most famous circus disaster in history" features Robert Pattinson--tween-bait marquee-topper thanks to Twilight, but basically untested as an actual, like, ac-tor--as Jacob, a Depression-era veterinary student who joins a B-grade circus run by the volatile August (Christoph Waltz), whose dazzling younger wife, Marlena (Reese Witherspoon), headlines the show's animal-heavy spectacular.

"My, my. This trunk is so girth-y."
"My, my. This trunk is so girth-y."

When Marlena's favorite horse dies, August, who treats his staff like

indentured slaves, acquires an elephant and forces vet and wife to

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figure out what to do with it; furtive romance ensues.

Beautifully

designed, sufficiently choreographed, insipid but watchable, Elephants

stresses that showbiz is about the maintenance of an illusion by any

means necessary. And as far as it exists to pull a hot young thing out

of the minor leagues, the film itself feels like a desperate ploy to

keep the star system churning in the face of looming disaster.

Water for Elephants Needs More Paul Schneider and Less Robert Pattinson

Oscar winners Witherspoon and Waltz's unmodulated heavy emoting pads

many shots of R-Patz looking smoochable, but what his role really needs

is an actor who can think and hold a close-up at the same time. Someone

like Paul Schneider, who gets about a dozen lines in a framing story and

deserves much better.

--Karina Longworth


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