' ' Cinema Romantico: Vamps

Tuesday, December 04, 2012


In this brave new post-“Twilight” world it would seem foregone that re-uniting the writer/director – Amy Heckerling – and star – Alicia Silverstone – of 1995’s teen classic “Clueless” for a story of swank urban vampires would be ripe with satire and gags. And it is. Goody (Silverstone) and Stacy (Krysten Ritter) are the Laverne & Shirley of vampires, sweet and wholesome, choosing only to suck the blood of animals, not humans, and living in a Manhattan flat where they sleep side-by-side in chic coffins and bantering on their smart phones from inside when the birds chirp and the sun comes up.

Complications arise when Stacy begins dating a cute boy (Dan Stevens) whose father is revealed to be……wait for it……Dr. Van Helsing (Wallace Shawn!)! Meanwhile the girls’ stem, the vampire who turned them, Ciccerus (Sigourney Weaver, oddly subdued in what should have been a cut-it-loose role), seems dangerously unhinged, on the verge of exposing and ruining all the gentle-soul vampires just trying to take it one day at a time.

Jokes hit, jokes miss, and so it goes, but Heckerling waits to reveal all her cards. The two undead debutantes appearance, of course, belies their real age. Stacy, having gone vampire in the 90's, is actually a forty-something and Goody's turning anniversary dates all the way back to 1841. Not that she tells this to her B.F.F. She doesn't want to startle, Stacy, of course, though she threatens to give herself away with numerous out-of-date references and archaic fashion choices, but mainly this is her having that which all earthly citizens have craved at least since Ponce de Leon arrived in Florida - eternal youth.

A viewer and/or reviewer must admit when he/she is possesses a personal liability regarding a film and, thus, I must admit I was watching "Vamps" through my Silverstone-stained glasses (which is not as weird as it sounds). She is essentially my age. I was there when she broke as That One Chick in the Aerosmith videos and I'm still here nearly twenty years later. I don't know her, I'll never know her, but, nevertheless, she and I have gotten old together. And I felt sadness pangs as "Vamps" itself turned - though not as gracefully as one would hope (this film will not - repeat, NOT - receive an Oscar nomination for Best Special Effects) - to show what might have happened to Cher Hororwitz when she was all grown up.

The end, improbably, carries real weight. When you're young, they tell you how fast it goes the older you get. Of course, you can't grasp this until you get older. So, how fast does it go? It goes as fast as the final scene. One minute you're be-boppin' and skattin' at the club, the next minute it's all just ashes to ashes and dust to dust.

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