Water for Elephants receives mixed reviews

By Holly Prendergast
April 25, 2011

The highly anticipated book to movie adaptation, “Water for Elephants,” debuted in the number three spot this weekend on April 22 earning $17.5 million.

This heart-felt drama starred “Twilight” heart throb Robert Pattinson and Academy Award winners Reese Witherspoon and Christopher Waltz.

Jacob Jankowski, played by Pattinson, is a young 23-year-old Cornell University veterinary student. During his last final exam class before graduating Jankowski is interrupted by two University staff members with news that would change his life forever.

Jacob’s parents had been killed in a terrible car accident, and with the hard times of the Great Depression, he is left with absolutely nothing.  With no home, or any money to finish his college education, Jacob sets out into the world with no plan but to go to the city and try to find work.

On his journey through the woods, Jacob runs and jumps onto a passing train, which happens to be for the Benzini Brothers Circus, and realizing he might be able to work with the animals, Jacob sees this as a sign from his parents that everything is going to be alright.

From there on, he is assigned to be the veterinarian for the circus and he quickly becomes great friends with the deranged ringmaster August, played by Waltz and his star attraction wife Marlena, played by Witherspoon.

After spending many hours together training with a 53-year-old elephant, Rosie, Jacob and Marlena fall in love, but ultimately have to find a way to either keep it from August or find a way to escape the circus.

In “Water for Elephants,” Pattinson and Witherspoon play the roles of two lovers torn by the times of the Great Depression and the fact that Marlena is already married to the ringmaster of the circus.

According to Rotten Tomatoes and MetaCritic, “Water for Elephants,” scored 54 out of 100 on both sites.   While this rating is not absolutely horrible, many will argue that the roles of Jacob and Marlena were very poorly cast.  The fact that Witherspoon is 11 years Pattinson’s senior, many have found that reason to believe that they lacked on-screen chemistry and that their love was not very believable.

Some who went to see this movie may have been expecting one of the next greatest love stories, but all in all Jacob and Marlena were no Jack and Rose (of Titanic).

While the on-screen romance, or lack thereof, of Pattinson and Witherspoon was questioned by many, there was absolutely no doubt that Waltz stole the show with his adaptation of the cruel and menacing ringmaster.  It is true that some scenes in this movie were hard to watch, due to the graphic beatings of Rosie the elephant, but there is no doubt that viewers could not wait to see what lunatic move August would make next.

Whether is was beating Rosie, letting Jacob think he was about to get mauled by a lion, or throwing men off of the train in the middle of the night so that he would not have to pay them, August was unpredictable and keep the audience on the edge of their seats the entire movie.

While the average rating for “Water for Elephants,” was only a 54, you can check this movie out and decide for yourselves.  For local listings and show times, you can visit the Anthony Wayne Theatre located at 109 W. Lancaster Avenue in Wayne.


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Holly Prendergast

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