Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

By Mark Ramsey | 2004/06/09

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban earned record box office in its opening bow. Not surprising, now that its target audience is old enough to drive themselves to the theater and pick up a six-pack en route.

Some things are the same. Harry’s still got that lightning bolt on his forehead which technically qualifies him for NASCAR time trials.

One of these days Harry Potter will discover girls, but that day is not today. A torrid affair is in store when Paris Hilton guests as wicked and self-absorbed Professor McNaughty, Master of the Night-Vision Video Arts. No teacher-student ratio, just a teacher-mirror one. If Harry thought he needed protection when he used his wand before, just wait.


Like the most dramatic rose ceremony ever, I feel like I’ve seen this movie many times before. Once again, Harry gets the Cinderella treatment from his foul uncle and aunt. Now that he’s 30 you’d think he could get his own place. “Age-o Stop-o Pubertato Mr. Roboto!,” says Hermione.

Once again, Harry exacts his revenge and is launched into an adventure which again takes him to Hogwarts where again somebody wants to kill him and again he emerges victorious, if permanently typecast.

New guest stars arrive to replace old ones because long-time pieces of scenery haven’t been chewed up enough and, it turns out, there are more famous British actors in need of a mainstream movie role than any casting agent ever thought possible.

Some characters just can’t get over the fact that they’re no longer central to the story: “I plan to produce a pay-per-view special called ‘Hogwarts Girls Gone Wild,’ says a virtually unrecognizable and largely unnecessary Malfoy. “Then you’ll pay, Potter…Per View!” Warns Hermione: “Flashicus Nipitatis Juvicus Jailbaitatis!

There’s a killer on the loose and his name is Sirius Black, which is either the perfect baby name for a future outlaw or the dress code in a Beverly Hills salon.

But where is this escaped prisoner? “Black could be anywhere,” says the one Black student at Hogwarts, meaning anywhere but in this movie.

harry_poster.jpgTo prepare for their adventure, Harry, Ron and the gang sit around their room and swallow bon bons which give each one the ability to imitate the roar of a wild animal. In college, they call this acid. Says Hermione: “Courtneycus Love-itato Partium Psychadelis!

Hagrid has a new pet! It’s a big flying chicken horse bird. Not since Jeff Goldblum as The Fly or Ryan Seacrest as Ryan Seacrest have so many incompatible species train-wrecked into one!

Much computer power is invested in getting the feathers right on this four-legged potpourri of natural history. How to explain, then, the Commodore 64 used to generate the Scooby Doo-like werewolf one professor morphs into? Says Hermione: “Shaggyum Velmatatis Mysterium Machinitatis!

Harry is confronted by the Dementors, ghastly prison guards who feed on every good feeling, every happy memory, and every repeat showing of The Shawshank Redemption on TNT. They suck the life force out of their victims, and they do it without their own show on E!

This movie contains the world’s only pub where a patron studies Steven Hawking. “Brilliant,” said Ron Weasely, “But not the kind of Big Bang I’m looking for after a Pint.”

The director asked each member of his young cast to write an essay describing their character. Harry’s essay ran a page and a half. Hermione’s ran sixteen pages! Says Hermione: “WarandPeace-o Pithicus Brownicus Nose-itatum!

Trouble is on the horizon for this franchise because these kids are aging faster than the honeymoon for Friends spinoff Joey. “I’m ready!” said author J.K. Rowling, who just penned Harry Potter and the Corvette of Mid-Life Crisis.

Prisoner of Azkaban was fine, but bring your Scooby Snacks. And consider this: what kind of wizards never once construct a volcano experiment?

Photos Copyright ©2004 Warner Brothers


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