A comedy of epic proportions, this parody of teenage angst is the second movie (in what will probably be a series of four) in the Twilight series, a franchise that uses poorly rendered computer animation, amateur makeup and terrible acting to show how mean, selfish teenagers get the traumatic lives they deserve.
Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) is an bitter, unsmiling teenager with a stalker boyfriend, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson, otherwise known as RPattz ’round the internets), who watches her sleep, tries to control her life, and is, incidentally, a vampire. Her life is pretty cruisy at the start of the movie, as she pals around with her characterless friends, rolls her eyes at her well-meaning and bushily moustached father Charlie, and watches Edward walk around in slow motion looking pale, pouty and syphillic.
Then Edward’s family make the mistake of inviting her over to celebrate her birthday and give her presents, which she never thanks them for and sulks about the whole time. She gets her riotous comeuppance when she cuts her finger opening her present and the vampire family go rabid and all want to eat her. The Cullen family robot, Jasper, flings himself at her—possibly a discourse on how robots will never pass for humans and we’re ridiculous for thinking so?—and Edward has to fight him off while Bella stands around and looks bored. After the stoush is over, Edward admits that he’s a horrible human being who manipulates Bella and that even though he is a creepy stalker, he is going to leave her to try and lead a normal life. So he and his entire family pack up and leave Bella, who, without a man in her life to tell her what to do, does what any normal teenage girl does after a breakup with someone who wears glitter body lotion. She falls out of humanity for three whole months.
When Charlie finally points out that she might be overreacting, and that burning an effigy of Edward and then snorting the ashes would be a much healthier response to the split, she decides haltingly to have another go at interacting with humans. Her laugh-a-minute self-absorption comes to a head when she goes out to see a movie with bubbly Jessica, ignores her completely, then, after taking a small risk and hallucinating that Edward is there warning her, abandons her friend on a dark city street to go and ride motorbikes with the men who were going to rape her in the previous movie, Twilight. It’s a hilarious, exaggerated look at the stupidity of teenagers, and leads to Bella’s new life plan of doing dangerous things so she can hallucinate her boyfriend back into her life. (She really should just get a cardboard cut-out of Edward like every other normal teenage girl.)
The rest of the movie is spent witnessing Bella get up to more and more dangerous hijinks, and spending some chemistry-free time being cranky and demanding around her old friend/pet dog, Jacob (Taylor Lautner), who helps her build a motorbike and also occasionally turns into a blurry and poorly animated werewolf. (The movie’s budget is rumoured to only be $4.20 after the cast was paid.) Will Bella kill herself doing these stupid things? Will she and Edward ever be together again to practise their Olympic-level Synchronised Brooding?
It’s a shamelessly comical film, with droll cliché-mocking moments like Bella descending a staircase in a pretty dress but looking depressed, and the buff Jacob tending to Bella’s extraordinarily minor head wound by taking off his t-shirt and dabbing her head gently with it so he can be shirtless and she can swoon. Making a lead heroine so fantastically unlikeable is no mean feat, but director Chris Weitz has done a great job of it. All the other actors do an equally good job of mocking themselves and the script.
Long drawn-out scene after long drawn-out scene illustrates the tediousness and narcissim inherent of the youth culture it is lampooning. Good for drinking games and laughing until you get a stitch, New Moon is comedy caper like no other. At least until the release of Eclipse next month. Hopefully I’ll have stopped giggling by then.