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You can tell which movie reviewers of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire either have not read the book or saw only the previews. They are the reviewers not gasping at the huge chunks gouged out of the story.
J.K. Rowling’s 734 page book needed trimming of the petty details, not deletion of characters, events, and plot intricacies. Still the 2 ½ hour movie is a visual masterpiece. Seen on postcards as you portkey past. Look quickly or you’ll –- oops! Gone.
Unfortunately, I’d spoil powerful jaw-drop movie moments for the book’s readers if I tell what the missing chunks are, so I’ll list them last paragraph. Skip it if you like your nasty shocks fresh.
Awaken from this nightmare, like Harry from his vision of an embryonic Voldemort zapping the life from an elderly Muggle (if you don’t know what that is, you are one) unfortunate enough to overhear his plot to destroy Harry and restore his body. Whisk to the Quidditch World Cup. Try to catch your breath before BAM! the match is over and Death Eaters are rioting and Paris is in flames… oops, sorry, not Paris… (But the Magical Ministry was just as helpless as the French’s.) For the first time since baby Harry deflected the evil uber-wizard Voldemort’s curse, Voldemort’s followers dare to show their masked faces and make a big noisy flaming catastrophe. And then scuttle like cockroaches when the Dark Mark – Voldemort’s calling card – appears in the sky. No, wait, in the book they scuttle. In the movie the Dark Mark is more of a punchline delivered after the audience has left.
The abbreviated Quidditch World Cup begins the real foreboding of Movie #4. Is it eliminating facts that Rowling will build on in Book #7, the last unwritten in the series?
Sorry, back to the movie. Hogwarts, the wizarding school of Harry, Ron and Hermione, is hosting the Tri-Wizard Tournament, an extreme scenarios competition between three schools. Things become sinister when underage Harry’s name pops out of the Goblet of Fire. Did he cheat to enter or is someone trying to kill him?
Seriously outclassed by the three older champions, Harry must find ways to snag a dragon’s egg from under her snout, breathe underwater while eluding merpeople and toothy octopi (evidently no Muggle technology such as scuba gear is allowed), and survive a hungry hedge maze. But survive he does, under the 360 degree watchful eye of Mad-Eye Moody, teacher of a hands-on Defense Against the Dark Arts class, a retired Auror, scarred from his career capturing Dark Wizards. The movie has softened his mutilated face and raw tirades, but his impish moments are gold.
The two other wizarding schools make impressive displays upon arrival. Durmstrong’s athletic young men and Beauxbaton’s graceful young ladies dazzle the Great Hall, each bringing another surprise. The Beauxbaton’s headmistress is taller than the half-giant Hagrid, and Quidditch superstar Victor Krum is on the Durmstrang team.
The film exquisitely depicts our awkward 14-year-old heroes through their first brushes with romance. Harry confesses that asking out his crush Cho Chang is scarier than facing a dragon. And Ron, looking at himself in the mirror, wearing the frilly second-hand dress robes his mother sent, has the face of a man facing execution. Hermione gets the date of her dreams with Victor Krum until Ron ruins it with jealous accusations.
Cho Chang is bland, not the firecracker Quidditch seeker of the book. Krum is nearly indistinguishable among his similarly crew-cutted, sullen schoolmates. And the Weasley boys’ haircuts, or lack of, are drippy 1970’s. Neville on the other hand, is a joy-to-behold late bloomer, a boy who actually practices his dance steps beforehand and is rewarded with a late night.
But the best scene is Moaning Myrtle’s flirty clue solving advice to Harry in the prefect’s bathtub. This is where that PG-13 rating came from.
And take a Muggle look at what the students are writing on and with.
Last paragraph, this is it, the list of what’s missing: no Dursleys, Fred and George’s Wizard Wheezes, Burrow, Mrs. Weasly, Percy or his job at the Ministry, Ludo Bagman, World Quidditch match, veela, top box events, Winky, Harry’s lost wand, Muggle juggling, no classes, no skrewts – hurrah!, Dobby or House Elf Liberation Front, Marauder’s Map, no missing Bertha Jorkins, barely any Sirius and never as a dog, no Trewlaney or any classes, no Tri-Wizard bag of gold, and no Ministry refusing to believe that Voldemort is back.
Email author Jeannette Jaquish at link below.
posted Dec 16, 2005
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