WATER FOR ELEPHANTS: 2011/2020 (Recorded from HBO ) Barbara and I first saw this colorful romantic melodrama when it opened in 2011. It is based on a best-selling novel by Sara Gruen and is set in a traveling circus. Water for Elephants may not be the best show on earth, but it's not bad and it has special significance for me. A little more than a half century ago a friend of mine and I lived out a boyhood fantasy and joined a circus. Following is the review I wrote when we first saw the film and I don’t think I can improve it. If anything I might give it a slightly higher grade:  

            Going back a few decades, when I was in my thirties, a friend and I joined a circus for a few exciting days. Then, when I was in my seventies, I remember the excitement of reading Sara Gruen’s best-selling novel which was the inspiration for this film. I should know that films rarely match the intensely personal experience that reading a novel does. In other words, I was hoping for better. Still, it is not a bad movie and you may view it with a cleaner slate than I did. Robert Pattinson, who came to worldwide international fame in the film adaptations of Twilight, plays the male lead. He is one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood and I am told the heartthrob of young girls throughout the world. The female lead went to Reese Witherspoon and the role of villain went to Christoph Waltz. For me, Witherspoon sparkled, Waltz was appropriately scary, and Pattenson was a little bland. A small but memorable role was brilliantly played by Hal Holbrook. It is 1931 and Jacob Jankowski (Pattenson) is about to start his final exam in veterinary medicine at Cornell when he is notified that both his parents have been killed in an auto accident. Jankowski drops out of school and stumbles his way into a second-rate traveling circus where he will try to survive during the Great Depression. It is an old fashioned story that focuses mainly on a love triangle. I am sure the studio executives hope to draw Pattinson’s legions of female fans this way, but Barb and I both thought the love story was the weakest link in the movie. For me, the strongest was the ambiance of the circus, the camaraderie of the troupe, and the animals, especially the 9,000 pound elephant (Rosie), realistically played by herself. If you see a lot of movies, this should probably be on your list, but if you decide not to see the film, I enthusiastically recommend the book. GRADE B-