Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

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By Mark Ramsey | 2002/11/17

When the turnstile totals are tallied for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, here’s my prediction: Never in history have so many moviegoers ponied up for such frightful dental apparitions. These teeth are horribly shocking! One subject obviously absent from the syllabus at Hogwarts: Orthodontia.

It was only a year ago when we last took a fantastical journey with Harry. But what goes around, comes around. And coming around now is the “Chamber of Secrets.” Not to be confused with Christina Aquilera’s chamber, which hasn’t contained any secrets in years.

These Potter kids have grown up a lot in one year. At this rate, their next adventure will be Harry Potter and the Octogenarian’s Enlarged Prostate.

harrypotter_saddam.jpgFade in on Harry, home with his mean old aunt and uncle. Suddenly he’s visited by a freaky little elf. Soon, Jeff Katzenberg leaves and along comes another freaky little elf.

Wait. An elf? Methinks young Harry has succumbed to a spell by that evil potion-maker, Master Jack Daniels: Blackout Drunkus Hallucinatus!

It’s not every day you encounter an elf who speaks like he’s serving tea to Emma Thompson in a Jane Austen melodrama. Has John Gielgud been reincarnated three feet tall and purple?

The elf is named “Dobby.” We know this because Dobby refers to Dobby in the third person. A lot. Mark says this is a sign of a slow mind.

So Harry escapes from his crabby guardians in a flying bucket of bolts, an old Ford. And I don’t mean Harrison. Off to Hogwarts he dashes. And there, danger awaits.

One after another, students are turning up frozen, petrified – a state I would have welcomed for more than a few rug-rats in the audience.

The cure for this affliction is the mandrake root, and Professor Sprout knows just how to massage this root. “Grasp your mandrake and pull it up,” she advises her students. Shock ensues when Ron Weasley grasped and pulled up the wrong root after Hermione’s spell, “Erectus Levioso!” went horribly awry. That’s what I call a Magic Johnson.

There have been a few changes at Hogwarts in the past year. There’s a new teacher, Ken Branaugh, and new classes training students for exciting careers in court reporting, cosmetology, and pipefitting. “Vocationus technicus preparus!” intoned snooty Professor McGonagall, waving her magical wand.

harrypotter_book.jpgOnce again there’s the familiar Quidditch match. And again, Hogwarts’ sole African American student is the sports announcer. Do Black wizards make better sportscasters? Time for a spell of her own: “Foxy Brownicus Al Sharptonus!

Chamber of Secrets marks another victory for antiquated old lady names when our heroes encounter “Moaning Myrtle” in the bathroom. Myrtle and fellow students Enid, Hazel, Vera, Cora, and Fern were schooling at Hogwarts fifty years earlier. But she was mysteriously killed and is now doomed to float gloomily around the bathroom performing a Sally Field one-woman show.

When Harry and company enter the Chamber, Myrtle warns “If you die down there you’re welcome to share my toilet.”

“Thanks,” replied Harry. “And you’re welcome to share my snot rags and my dirty knickers.”

As usual, there’s a lesson tidily wrapped up in all the suspense and action. It comes courtesy of the late, great Richard Harris: “It isn’t our abilities that show what we really are, it’s our choices.”

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is a wise choice, indeed.


Photos Copyright ©2002 Warner Bros. Pictures

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