The snark side of “New Moon”

Feb. 16, 2010, 12:57 a.m.

It’s Valentine’s Day, and a new moon is rising tonight. No, seriously — check your calendar. It’s almost fitting, since it’s quite a stretch to claim that the warped emotional logic behind Twilight’s “New Moon” qualifies the movie as a celebration of love. It’s more comforting to think that Flicks chose to play it on Sunday night to celebrate the lunar cycle instead.

As Stanford’s cream of the hardcore crop began prepping for a third weekend night out, students with less stamina and far less dignity headed over to Memorial Auditorium to experience the nightmarish sophomore installment of the Twilight franchise, apparently under the guise that it was romantic.

For a film whose fan base consists mostly of vapid, twitter-pated girls and their devoted (read: whipped) boyfriends — and at a school whose admissions office usually tries not to accept said specimens — the auditorium was surprisingly full of students who claim to be seeing the movie “ironically.” Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt.

At 8 p.m., the lights dim, and a hush falls over the crowd. As the title slowly dissolves from the screen, the eerie background music is punctuated by the distinct clink of bottles in the audience — the writer will neither confirm nor deny contributing.

For those unfamiliar with the film or its predecessor, the casual observer can use the evidence presented to deduce several important things regarding human-vampire-werewolf interactions. Vampires are pale. They glitter in the sun, and when they walk toward you purposefully, time slows a bit and dramatic music begins to play. Everyone is aware of their condition but it is never a problem until the plot needs thickening. Think of it like cornstarch for screenplays.

Regarding Bella, it quickly becomes clear that there are several ways to a man’s heart. Bite your lip, sullenly and often — the unofficial tally for New Moon clocks in at about 18 individual instances of bottom-lip-to-tooth contact. Flirt with younger men and older men on motorcycles. Run around in the woods — best if you’re alone and without a map. Blink like a butterfly and fall dramatically to the ground every once in a while for good measure. And you must remember to share your sharp witticisms with the world — for example, “Hello, biceps” and “Jacob, you’re, like, buff.”

Thirty minutes in, Edward is in Bella’s room, creepily stroking her belongings — no, wait, just kidding, now he’s in the woods wearing a nice suit. He turns to Bella, and with wrinkled, tortured brow, tells her he’s leaving. Five second pause. “I’m coming,” she says, with equally constipated countenance. Three seconds. “I don’t want you to come.” Cue inappropriate — or appropriate — laughter.

After he leaves, Bella collapses of exhaustion and is saved by a shirtless man with prominent pecs. She’s received with gratitude and no questioning about the sketchy nature of the rescue. Once she’s home, she expresses her grief through a rotating camera shot and a time warp montage of Hallmark-esque seasons passing.

“I’m dizzy,” said Jackie Lho ‘11, trying to track the cinematography.

Jacob finally displays his pecs — er, talents — in the climactic scene when he helps Bella after the motorcycle crash. As the crowd jeers, “Take off your shirt!” and whoops with glee when the werewolf willingly obliges, several lingering cheers of “Take off your shirt, Bella!” float up from the crowd — futile attempts to salvage masculine dignity. Too late, guys — sorry.

9:30 p.m. The film trudges along — Bella screams a lot, she tries to drown herself — what she calls “recreationally cliff diving” — and a nearby group of spectators gets into a spirited argument about whether or not Jacob’s high-rising shorts are indeed jorts and not just basketball shorts. The crowd laughs as Jacob explains his lycanthropy, saying, “It’s not a lifestyle choice — I was born this way.” Interesting choice of words from the conservative Mormon author.

Following the franchise’s penchant for underhanded references to sexual tension, Jacob growls to Bella, “You don’t even know how tight I’m wound” — subtle. The couple then proceeds to almost, almost kiss, and as they break apart, someone shouts angrily, “Grow a pair!” What a letdown.

All of a sudden, the scene switches to Italy, and Bella is running frantically through a crowd of red cloaks. A nearby girl asks loudly, “Wait, where’s Jacob?” and someone shouts back, “He’s at the gym!”

After the red cloaks comes a very strange series of events — in a possible homage to Stanford, Bella briefly fountain-hops — in slo-mo! — on her way to “save” Edward from the sun’s rays, and then Dakota Fanning appears and takes everyone on the most awkward elevator ride . . . ever. Eventually everything rises to a climactic fight, during which Edward’s face cracks and instantly heals. Who knew?

The denouement proceeds with less action and equal disturbing-ness — Edward agrees to “change” Bella into a vampire on the condition that they will marry first. Keep in mind that she is 18 and he is 17 — or 109, depending on your point of view — so it’s either pedophilia or statutory rape.

Audiences, despite the negative stigma surrounding the film’s quality, expressed enthusiasm as they gathered their belongings (read: flasks) and filed (read: stumbled) out of the auditorium.

“It was so thrilling,” said staunch Team Edward supporter Ericka Sohlberg ‘11. “I was so moved by Edward’s pain that I wanted to rip off my own clothes in tandem with his own shirt-ripping.”

Ellen Huet is currently a senior staff writer at The Daily; she joined the staff in fall 2008 and served one volume as managing news editor in fall and early winter of 2010-2011. Reach her at ehuet at stanford dot edu. Fan mail and sternly worded complaints are equally welcome.

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