Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

By Mark Ramsey | 2005/11/21

In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, not only is Harry in a race with adulthood, but his left eyebrow is racing to meet his right like two ends of the first transcontinental railroad. Where’s Hermione when we need her: “Pluckus Unibrow-um!”

Evil is rearing its nasty head, but Harry’s too busy fielding a crew of landscapers to trim his brow-garland to pay much notice.

“Blimey, Harry,” says Ron Weasley who, for the sake of this harry_dumbledore.jpg

sentence has gone Cockney, “is that a nose or a hairy ice-breaker?”

Yes, there’s trouble, and that means Harry has to dash off a note to Sirius Black before he craps some serious brown.

“Oh my,” says Sirius, “your forehead is under attack by a thicket of vipers!”

“I say, Sirius, that’s my eyebrow!” replied Harry.

Yes, Sirius is not particularly helpful, manifesting in the midst of a roaring fire that made me pine away for a Yule log, and I don’t mean “pine” as a pun.

As coincidence would have it, Hogwarts will host the Tri-Wizard Tournament, because no matter how bad stuff is there’s a never-ending supply of sporting events in the Harry Potter universe. “I’m working on a chapter now where Harry and Valdemort face off in a NASCAR race,” commented Potter author J. K. Rowling.

“Checkered Flag-o Chewing Tobacco!” added Hermione.

In order to win the Tri-Wizard Tournament, Harry must pass three tests, all of them life-threatening. In my day, the school system frowned on life-threatening tests in favor of multiple-choice ones. Then again I didn’t have a score to settle with the nexus of Evil – although that kid who de-pantsed me in gym class came pretty close.

So Goblet of Fire becomes the cinematic equivalent of The Amazing Race. Will Harry pass the test? Will he find the clue? Or will he suffer a fate even worse than gym class de-pantsing in the unlikely event there is one?

The great Maggie Smith returns in the role that made getting out of bed at her age worthwhile. Marvel as Maggie all at once teaches Ron Weasley how to dance and boys everywhere how to hurl.

You see, the ball is coming. It’s a “night of well-mannered frivolity,” as Maggie puts it, “much like the splendidly impetuous time I had with Harry Hamlin in Clash of the Titans.”

“Too much information,” Harry whispered to Ron.

With a ball coming you know what that means: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is our first chance to watch British teens flirt since Madonna and Kathleen Turner were schoolgirls.

Meanwhile, puberty means looser looks for our heroes. Since when did Potter and company get so disheveled? Weasley looks like he should be feeding snacks to a dog named Scooby. “Hair-us Grow-um Interruptus!” shouted Hermione, trying to squeeze in a line any way she can.


Enter the new teacher, “Mad Eye” Moody. I don’t know if his eye is mad as much as it is perturbed. But there’s nothing catchy about “Perturbed Eye” Moody, now is there? Evidently a defense against the dark arts doesn’t require both eyes trained in the same direction. Unlike most folks whose eyes spin at random, Moody doesn’t do it because Ben Affleck is in another action movie.

Pity the non-Potter movie careers of the these kids. They appear like the ball in Times Square every year to remind us that J. K. Rowling has authored another 700 or so pages. If you have to beg for non-Potter jobs, kids, maybe it’s time to learn a trade, say, chimney sweep or apple seller or whatever else folks in the Britain do.

One of Harry’s final challenges is to navigate a maze which climaxes in the appearance of Ralph Fiennes as Valdemort, who, with his gang of death eaters, is a welcome reprieve from Malfoy and his gang of death between-meal-snackers.

With his reptilian nose and tight-drawn skin, Ralph is ready to work the red carpet with Melissa Rivers. Valdemort was once known as “that name which shall not be spoken,” an honor now bestowed on Joey, Thursdays on NBC.

All in all, this is my favorite Potter yet. It’s the darkest and most adult chapter in the series to date. And in it Potter the boy becomes Potter the man.

Says Dumbledore, “Soon we will face the choice between what is right and what is easy.”

What is right rarely is.

Photos Copyright ©2005 Warner Bros. Pictures

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