Fun with Franchises: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001), Part I — “Voldemort: What a Cunt He Was”
What better way to start Fun with Franchises than with the king of all franchises (that we haven’t done yet)? This is the highest grossing franchise of all time, and is without a doubt the main one I grew up with, so it made sense to start with it. Harry Potter is by far the one franchise that every single one of my friends and I could make jokes and references to and have everyone get those jokes and references. Plus it’s just great.
I had so much fun with the Disney films and later the Bond films, I thought, “Let’s just try this with everything else.” Essentially this is us just watching these movies that we can talk endlessly about because we grew up with them and just cracking jokes and asking all these logical questions. It’s all for fun and basically for parody. We do this because we love them.
So this is Fun with Franchises. Right now, we’re doing the Harry Potter franchise, and today is the first part of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (also known as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to you Brits, and Australians, and… Canadians, and… the woman who wrote the book).
Our title card has the British title, motherfucker.
We also use Roman numerals for our titles. Because if you can’t figure that shit out for yourself and need an actual number to help you, you don’t deserve to read what’s after it.
Fun fact — Mike’s and my initials are both roman numerals; MD (1,500) and CM (900). These are the things that interested me when I was 6. This and GoldenEye.
When I was six, I realized my initials could also allow me to pretend that I was a doctor, and then I went, “Well, why should I bother trying to be one of those when I grow up if I already have those initials?” So basically any kind of successful future I may have had was thrown out the window at that moment.
But it also led us here, so who’s to say what “failure” really means?
Let’s give a shout out to the wonderful studio who brought us these movies. Warner Bros. — you guys are amazing. You guys released The Jazz Singer and Harry Potter — you’ve been leading the pack for about a hundred years now.
(We’re gonna give shout outs to the studios who made the films each time, since it is important to recognize who made what, and thank them for giving us such wonderful works of art and entertainment that we can love forever and ever. And for other reasons too, that we don’t really need to get into right now.)
(It’s kidnapping-related. Long story.)
(Personally, I love my grandma and would like to see her again, so just go with it.)
We open on Privet Drive.
And what clearly looks like a very small soundstage.
I appear out of thin air, motherfucker.
(I also don’t remember forests being here in the later films. Did they knock these trees down to build that weird playground thing where Dudley has his rap battles?)
It’s just an old man, walking.
An old man who looks a lot like Richard Harris.
I bet he’s stumbled home from the bar looking like this at least 29 times.
And a cat.
Why didn’t this seem weird and poorly done when I was a kid? Holy shit. It’s like they made the movie for $25.
This was my impression as well. I haven’t seen this since it came out, when I was in the sixth grade, but now that I’m watching it again — what the fuck? How did this look this bad on a budget of $125 million?
Wouldn’t it be funny if that was a switchblade?
♫ “When you’re a Gryff, you’re a Gryff all the way…” ♫
We might see a switchblade later on in the franchise. Hermione named that cat ‘Crookshanks’ for good reason.
Oh shit, man! Dumbledore’s about to light up. Huffle-puff-puff-pass.
But also, how much more awful would Slytherins be if vaping were a thing in this universe?
Is this really what it looks like? Holy shit. This is almost amateurish. I could have made this in my garage.
Is that a 90s Toyota?
This is why you have people. That’s a late 80s Vauxhall Cavalier. And here’s where we have some weird continuity issues with the books (that I don’t ultimately care about) — I guess because Rowling started writing so many years before the first book was published, it’s established that Harry Potter was born in 1980 and that the final book (pre-epilogue) ends in 1997. This is a 1989 Vauxhall, which means that movie Harry was born in ’89 or later. A car we see later confirms that movie Harry’s age corresponds to when the books were published, not to when the book was first written.
That’s standard movie/book continuity right there. My guess is they figured, “Well, Radcliffe was born in ’89, so let’s just do it that way.” It makes sense. Because when they do, eventually, make these books over again, they’re not gonna do it period-piece style and set it in the 90s, they’re gonna do it modern again, and set it current and not really mention it. So I don’t really have a problem with book deviation (like so many people do, especially with something like this). Complaining about book deviation seems less important when your film looks like it was made by Ed Wood.
It’s weird thinking how amazing they must have thought this seemed, to see an old dude standing there waving a lighter like “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” just came on. Especially since, in less than a decade, Batman would be knocking out entire streets with one of those things, and other wizards in this same franchise would be killing each other with a flick of their wrist.
They’re really relying heavily on us knowing what the hell is going on here and going along with the whole “wow, magic!” aspect of it.
This felt labored. When we see this gadget in later, doesn’t it suck up all the lights at once? Cause by then, they were busting their asses trying to squeeze a 700 page book into one movie and they didn’t have time for bullshit like this.
That’s why Azkaban was so important for them. It really took them away from the wrong tone to build on and into the right one. Otherwise by Deathly Hallows, you’d have had Death Eaters getting pissed off during the Battle of Hogwarts because Peeves was making faces at them and giving them wedgies.
It also makes sense that these first films were for nine-year-olds, and by the time the last one came out, the kids were in college and didn’t care about the magic aspect and were instead contemplating the emptiness of life’s unfulfilling void. (As one does.)
♫ “We are the world…” ♫
It’s also fun wondering what Richard Harris thinks is going on. Because if there’s one thing I can be certain of, it’s that 80% of the cast had no idea what the material was actually about. And I guarantee Richard Harris had no idea what was happening in this scene. He doesn’t know about light-stealing devices. This is a guy whose idea of sobriety was giving up whiskey for beer and wine.
(Now I kind of want to do a series of online shorts where I ask actors who appeared in movies like this what they think they were actually about, just to see what their take on it is. Because you know they couldn’t do it.)
This is all happening so slowly that I feel like someone on this street would have woken up by now. “Honey, did you notice that all the streetlights are going out, one by one?”
Within five years of this, we’ll see an entire house hidden among non magical people. Surely the most powerful wizard in the world had a better way to do this.
It’s so weird how important this scene is and how bad it looks retroactively.
“I should have known that you would be here –”
Oh, wait… wrong franchise.
Why should he have known? What possible reason would she have to show up? Because she knows he’ll be part of her house later? Is this an NCAA violation?
Is this an ASPCA violation?
Oh shit, that cat just turned into a person!
And here I was, hoping for a cat teacher.
Oh wait, that’s Maggie Smith. Oh, then nah, that’s cool. She does that shit on the regular.
The Prime of Miss Minerva McGonagall.
“Good evening, Professor Dumbledore. Are the rumors true, Albus?”
AKA ‘Did that motherfucker really evaporate after trying to murder an infant’? I feel like, given the climate these events happened in, you wouldn’t be so calm about all of this.
Now’s also a good time to stop and realize – we don’t know what the fuck is going on right now. An old guy just came onto a street and got rid of all the lights and a cat just turned into an old lady. We could be watching Animorphs: The New Generation for all we know.
The entire sequence is also done in closeup or tight mediums. Did they waste all the money on everything else before they got to this? Did they shoot this first as test footage and just leave it in the movie? This is seriously something I want an answer to. How… how can it look like this? Does the rest of the movie look this bad and I just don’t remember it?
(If it wasn’t for my owl, I wouldn’t have spent that year at Hogwarts.)
And the second you have that thought, your eyes close, and the next morning they find you dead in the bathroom.
Dumbledore’s answer to her is: “I’m afraid so, professor. The good, and the bad.”
What rumors are good and bad? Yes, a lot of people are dead. But this baby is alive and Voldemort has no body anymore.
This has to be like, an hour after it happened. Do people know that quickly? Is there an apparating town crier that just zips around, spreading news? One if by floo, two if by sea? Also, how do you not know if the rumors are true yet knew to show up at this exact street?
Also note the tiptop writing here, laying on your exposition and character names about as subtly as an orangutan in a trench coat trying to walk out of a zoo. She calls him Professor Dumbledore and then Albus in practically the same breath. I hate when stuff is purely for the audience. When will movies learn that if you just stay true to the characters and let the actors show the relationship, people will just get it.
Seriously, what’s with movies that open up with people that have known each other for DECADES addressing each other by name several times and then never doing it again? I almost never call people by name. They might as well have just stuck big [HELLO MY NAME IS _______] name tags on their robes.
That’s one of my biggest pet peeves. Guy says, “You know, Allison, my wife…” Meanwhile he’s talking to HIS FATHER! And it’s the kind of thing where, when you’re tuned into it, you can’t help but hear it. You’ll notice them doing it at the worst spots. I am cursed with the ability to not only hear it, but have it amplified, to the point where it temporarily takes me out of the movie. It’s one of my great missions in life — to point it out at every opportunity, just in the hopes that people catch on and don’t fucking do it anymore.
Apparently there’s a boy involved. (Not that we don’t already know who it is and what’s going on, it’s just – for someone who doesn’t know anything about the franchise, going into this movie cold — what are they thinking right now?)
Somebody named Hagrid is bringing him along. McGonagall does not think this wise. Should they trust Hagrid with such a task? ‘Dost thou trust the giant Hagrid?’
Oh, but I do not concur, ma souer.
Dumbledore says he would trust Hagrid with his life. ‘Hath not a giant feelings?’
Also, his hat – Ali Baba, Russian ushanka or Hershey’s Kiss?
And do you think they repurposed that beard and wig for cobwebs at the Halloween party afterward?
Speaking of which, how fast do you think a Spirit Halloween moved into Godric’s Hollow after the murders?
Seriously, they spent NO time in planning this scene. This looks like a fucking Wishbone episode.
Also, why have we not brought Wishbone back just to do recreations of stories like this?
Richard Harris’s hair seriously looks like something you buy at Party City.
I never questioned Gambon’s Dumbledore hair, because it had waviness to it and felt like it was legitimately part of him. This looks like what a fourth grader wears when playing Rip Van Winkle.
Also, don’t you think that having knocked out the lights it would only make this blinding flash of light stand out? Just a thought.
He appeared out of fat air.
♫ “Like a bat out of hell, I’ll be gone when the morning comes…” ♫
That’s two Jim Steinman references in the opening scene of this movie. Congrats to whoever had that in the pool.
“I’m so fucking turned on right now.”
“Did you really leave a baby with him?”
There’s eight Oscar nominations in this shot, by the way. And zero comprehension as to what they’re actually performing.
“What’s crackin’, bitches?”
Sup, Robbie Coltrane? What’s it like being in a franchise that doesn’t make you swim in caviar?
This is also how I roll up to every party. Complete with the baby. Only usually it’s a bottle of bourbon wrapped like that. Sometimes it’s a baby.
“Bring me Dumbledore and the Wookiee.”
Oh wait… wrong franchise.
Oh shit – they’re smuggling white babies on the black market.
What a turn that would be.
Does the scar make the price go down? Is this something I should be asking? Let’s move on.
McGonagall doesn’t think they should leave the kid here. These people are muggles. And they stink. They’re the worst kind of people imaginable (Republicans?).
But they’re the only family he has. Plus – this motherfucker’s gonna be famous. Everyone’s gonna know who he is. So it’s better that he grows up away from all of that. Otherwise he might turn into Justin Bieber.
Another issue. We know that magical people mix with non-magical people regularly. They walk out on the streets and stuff.
They also fuck. And have relatives who are magical/non-magical. Which brings up another question, which I’ll get to in a second.
Everyone knows Harry’s alive, and it would only be a matter of time before they found out where he was. How would there not be paparazzi all over the place watching his life like some magical Truman Show shit? I can’t conceive of a media or group of fans that would leave someone like this alone.
Harry Potter and the Culture of Fame.
Imagine this kid growing up in a magical social networking culture. Holy shit. And we think he turned out to be kind of a self-inflated egoist now…
Now’s also a good time to bring it up — they make it a point to separate magical culture from non-magical culture. In Chamber of Secrets, Molly Weasley (as well as others at Hogwarts) flips out that people might have seen them in the flying car, and then Harry gets expelled in Order of the Phoenix for using magic in the presence of a muggle. And aren’t they also making up all these news stories to cover for all the shit Voldemort and his people do? (They take down a fucking bridge in one of the movies!) So the presumption is that muggles don’t know about them and would freak out if they did. Yet — some witches and wizards fuck muggles and have babies, and others have siblings who are witches and wizards — Petunia Dursley, as we’ll find out later. So are we all to assume that these people just keep it quiet, either out of shame or acquiescence to the “down low”? That’s a real big continuity issue in this series that’s never really brought up.
(P.S. Acquiescence to the Down Low is my new band’s name.)
It might also make sense to bring this up later, but what do they do about people on the non-magical radar? Hermione’s parents aren’t magical — she has a social security number, she’s in the system. What happens when she turns 10 and goes to Hogwarts? The government wants to know that stuff. How about when she comes of age? Unless she plays dead, they’ll be looking for taxes, and I don’t think Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs accepts galleons.
These are the things that keep me awake at night.
Well, they kind of cover that in book… six, I believe, with that first chapter of both ministers meeting one another. So the muggle government is aware of all this stuff. How the taxes and things work, I have no idea. Also — pretty sure Hermione’s a tax dodger, removing her parents’ memories of her. Can’t imagine what kind of ramifications that one has in terms of record-keeping.
You think you can get around the IRS by claiming Confundus?
“I just want you to know — I fingered a koala once. It wasn’t a sex thing, it was a power thing. All right, good talk, baby, I’ll see you in eleven years.”
“Quick, now ring the bell and run away!”
“Shit! I didn’t set it on fire first!”
Hagrid’s crying. He’s already grown an attachment to little Cuato.
“Hagrid, will you stop crying like a little bitch?”
“Yeah, seriously, Hagrid. It’s embarrassing.”
Let’s pause to reflect what just happened in this scene – Harry’s parents are brutally murdered in front of him, and he survives because his mother’s love protects him. The dude who murders them is disembodied (this is never fully explained in the film) and goes away, then Harry is taken by the most powerful wizard in the world to his aunt and uncle’s house to basically be treated like a piece of shit for the next eleven years, even though, on the other side of the magical world, he has a vault with millions of dollars in it just waiting for him and fame and glory for the rest of his life.
What a Dumble-douchebag.
Also, couldn’t he have just apparated here with the baby instead of putting him on the bike with a guy who can’t do magic? I know it does create a nice opportunity for symmetry in Deathly Hallows. Still, it’s one of those things that makes you wonder how in the hell all this stuff went down in the moment. Since Voldemort going down out of nowhere would be a huge deal, and I can’t imagine the Death Eaters are all mobilized and ready to go after their guy suddenly being disembodied out of nowhere.
(Also, Disembodied Out of Nowhere… great album title.)
Wizards always have great handwriting.
And great faith in the fact that these people are home and not on vacation.
And… you know… that they’re willing to take him in. That’s kind of a big financial burden to lay on a family in the dead of night.
“Remember what I said about the koala.”
Wow, Zorro really fucked that kid up.
I know it’s CGI (it would be fucked up if they actually scarred a baby just for that shot. That’s the kind of shit they did in the 70s), but damn, that shit looks fresh.
Was that bleeding or something and they cleaned it up to get it to that point? Why isn’t that child screaming bloody murder?
Oh shit, it’s the Da Vinci Code!
Or Being John Malkovich.
That scar is a transitional device.
Would you call that a… Scar-fade?
Or… SCAR WIPE!
Doesn’t he look like a cross between MacCaulay Culkin and Hitler?
Is there any other kind?
Home Alone Nein.
Der Gut Sohn.
(Also, oh my god, Home Alone Nein with a Jewish kid foiling the Nazis with paint cans and shit would be incredible. Also probably hugely offensive, too, now that I think about.)
This is what it looks like when Mom knows you’re masturbating in the bathroom.
This motherfucker lives under the stairs.
At least he has an apple.
And cousin Dudley is a little asshole who likes to torture him.
The Boy Who Shivved.
Went out of his way just to be an asshole. That’s true family.
“What the fuck did I just walk in on?”
I love how they spare no exposition in this scene. “Bitch, wake up! Now go and cook breakfast.”
I love the implication is that Aunt Petunia started cooking breakfast and then went, “Wait… why am I doing this?” and then woke up her nephew to have him make breakfast. The only thing missing was her snapping twice and pointing in that “chop chop” kind of way.
Weird how Harry sleeps under the stairs and both parents walked down them and are like five feet away in the kitchen and yet Harry just hadn’t woken up before Petunia banged on the door to the cupboard.
Also not even gonna wonder what’s going on with the left side of this shot.
Aww… what up, Unc V?
Richard Griffiths is the British Uncle Phil.
Also amazing that they decided this was a proper first shot for this character.
Anyway, it’s Dudley’s birthday. There are 36 presents.
Uh oh. Last year, he had 37 presents. (“Try not to get any presents on the way to the parking lot!”) Unc V, you done fucked up now.
“Oh you are so lucky I don’t know that hassa hassa shit yet.”
Damn… people got better cars over the years. Also, look at that amateur staging. Having one set of extras walk by to add realism. Motherfucker, we know you ain’t got no people.
This is the shot I was talking about that establishes the year. These are Vauxhall Vectra Estates, all from around 2000. Assuming the movie doesn’t take place in the future with relation to its 2001 release date, that puts Harry born in ’89, like me.
“Look, motherfucker – if you so much as look at me the wrong way, I’m gonna give you paper cuts all over your testicles.”
“And not just the bottom, I’m talking where the skin hangs.”
Weird thing to say to your nephew before you go to the zoo.
But, I mean, at least you’re taking him to the zoo. They make him sleep under the stairs, pretend he doesn’t exist and treat him like shit, but also he gets to come to the zoo. I wonder if that’s just because they think he’s gonna do magic shit if left home alone and can’t trust him.
Another random question — does the whole magical protection only apply when he’s inside the house or just under the care of these people?
“Hey – hey snake!”
Also, look at Petunia’s face. That snake looks like it’s making her long for the days when she used to sell drinks to all the sailors in Brighton.
The snake isn’t doing shit (because he’s a fucking snake), so Dudley goes away.
Is that an Alabama Black Snake? I guess not. Either way, it’s too beaucoup.
“Man, don’t mind him. He ain’t know what it’s like for us.”
“Motherfucker, what did you mean ‘us’?”
“Yeah, that’s right, you fucked up.”
“Ah… I’m just fuckin’ with ya.”
What an awesomely douchebag thing to do. Totally unnecessary, yet incredible.
My driver’s license photo looks a lot like this.
A person is most dangerous when one of their eyes partially closes like that. They can say all they want, but once that eye starts to close, you’re about to have to call up your list of kidney donors.
Ah, the old Marcel Marceau trick. Haven’t seen that since ‘Nam.
What’s great about this is that it’s the classic villain comeuppance moment. In action movies, the villain will always have a pet tiger or something and be really cruel toward it, and it always ends with them locked up with the tiger, getting torn apart, as a cruel twist of fate. This is basically that. Which ties into what I’m gonna say next…
It’s funny they take this wondrous tone with the whole thing, since it’s like, “Oh, it’s funny this happened,” meanwhile in five movies, we’re gonna find out the dark side of this same situation when we meet Tom Riddle at this same age. Tone is an interesting thing.
Especially Tone Loc.
“Stay cool, Ponyboy.”
How far you think that thing’s gonna get? It’s gonna end up right back in the tank like an hour from now.
Also, if you look really quickly and don’t realize there’s a kid standing there, it kinda looks like that gorilla statue is wearing pants.
Miming 101. It’s like having training wheels.
Something about Vernon’s face in this shot [and most other shots] says, “I wanna eat that.”
I could literally cut and paste that comment anywhere else in the article he appears and it would make sense.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the Kuleshov Effect.
So Unc V takes Harry home, locks him back under the stairs and says, “There’s no such thing as magic,” since that was Harry’s explanation as to how the glass disappeared. (Making glass disappear is a lot different than making rocks disappear.)
Also, what size do you think that raincoat is?
And then we randomly cut to an owl bringing a letter.
The writing, sets, staging, editing, so far – it’s just bad across the board. There’s no rhyme or reason for any of this to be happening right now. And the movie’s STILL two and a half hours long. They’re really relying on you knowing what’s gonna happen. They did a very poor job with this first act.
How about the fifteen houses that look exactly alike, or the fifteen 2000 Vauxhall Vectra Estates parked in the driveways? Is it really just me that this bothers? Am I the only one who notices that the cars are identical? Are people THAT oblivious to the 4,000 lb hunks of metal you see everywhere?
Isn’t that the point, though? Everyone is the same, this is what we’re getting away from and into a wondrous new world, sort of thing? I have to imagine that’s what they were going for.
♫ We just got a letter, we just got a letter… ♫
Why is ‘under’ italicized? Is there a cupboard OVER the stairs?
I always thought this was just a quirky British thing. Like how the r’s are all capitalized even when they shouldn’t be, except in the word “under,” which is randomly italicized. Consistency, folks. Oh. Counsistency, foulks. I’m sorry, you’re British.
(I was tempted to leave out that last comma.)
Little Whinging sounds like a character in Last of the Mohicans.
Now that I also notice the comma after the number 4, I wonder if this envelope was filled out just for Christopher Walken to pronounce in an audiobook.
Just imagine him as Dumbledore. And Nicolas Cage as Lupin. Or Snape. Helena Bonham Carter can stay, though.
“How much did I drink yesterday?”
This is what it looked like in the 90s when you realized your friends signed you up for a bunch of karate lessons by filling out those little postcard forms in the mall.
Oh so today she cooks breakfast? How does this arrangement work, exactly?
Nice hat, Fatty Arbuckle.
I was thinking it made him look like John Jacob Astor IV, only young and not drowned. Yet.
It’s a red hat with the letter S on it. The OCD people at Hogwarts would flip out over that.
Anyway, Dudley goes and steals the letter, because he’s a little shit, and Unc V’s like, “Who would want to send you a letter?”
Which does bring about an interesting point — did they have to get him a social security number and all that once he got picked up off the doorstep? Is Unc V using him as an extra dependent to pay less taxes? Does Harry even go to muggle school and have friends? Do Dudley’s friends just accept the fact that Harry lives under the fucking stairs? What is Harry’s education situation right now, exactly?
This is presumably the first letter he’s gotten in eleven years. Wouldn’t you know where it came from immediately?
(Dramatic chipmunk music.)
There’s no way Dudley has any idea what that means. Also, Petunia’s face looks like that moment in American Beauty when Annette Bening is cleaning the house and notices that one little spot on the glass door.
Fuck you, cars.
There’s a lot of owl shit on that roof.
And the Dursleys really don’t take proper care of their lawn. These are the things I notice in movies.
Jesus, these things are better than UPS.
They also toss those things as well as Hermione tosses Harry in Azkaban when they’re riding the Whomping Willow. (P.S. Riding the Whomping Willow – not a euphemism.)
Do you think someone had to hand-write every one of those letters? Wizarding or film crew?
Also, that’s kind of a hefty-looking envelope for what’s basically just a piece of paper.
Wizarding jury duty.
This is why Harry gets such an unfair trial in Order of the Phoenix.
At least he has toys.
(I’d have loved it if they showed him bouncing a baseball off the wall to himself.)
Hard to tell if that’s his gut or the shirt.
Also — best series of shots ever:
Just — that.
Scratch that… THIS is what my driver’s license photo looks like.
I love that this entire scene exists just for Vernon to be like, “See this? I’m burning your entire future right in front of you.” I love a good silent ‘fuck you’ moment, especially when it’s an adult doing it to a child.
Unc V loves his Sundays.
(I’m also worried he might have had a stroke.)
You know why Unc V likes Sundays?
They get older, he stays the same age.
“No post on Sundays.”
Ah… everybody likes a Kurosawa reference.
They’re just gonna chill on the roof doing “Hoo’s on First.”
The neighbors have nothing to say about this?
Oh, and — kinda weird that the street sign is in the middle of the block like that.
“What the fuck?”
“That’s not supposed to come from there!”
I feel like you’d know after like, the fifth letter that they aren’t going to stop.
It’s funny that Dumbledore, when he realized the letters weren’t being delivered, just decided, “Fuck it. More owls,” instead of just going himself.
And do we ever establish what the deal is with the Dursleys and Harry? They hate him because his mother was magical, yet they have taken care of him all this time. But they also treat him like shit. You’d think they’d be happy to be rid of him.
There are at least a dozen shots in this franchise of Daniel Radcliffe having a stupid smile on his face.
I like how Vernon is plugging his ears, as if that’ll make the letters go away.
Couldn’t you just, I don’t know, go into another room without a means of entry? Or, you know, just let him read the letter and then keep him locked under the stairs? Because don’t they kind of have to allow him to go to the school? But again, you fucking hate this kid, so why are you so strict about keeping him away from the magical stuff? Before he showed up on your doorstep, you literally would have given him up to magic for his entire life. I’m starting to think there’s some real shady tax stuff going on here.
Motherfucker, what are you grabbing for? What kind of seeker are you, if you can’t grab one letter out of a thousand in the air?
He looks like Willem Dafoe getting hit in Platoon.
This scene is funny, having just watched The Impossible.
Unc V says they’re going far away, where they’ll never find them. (I don’t think he understands what the word magic means.)
Wouldn’t it be funny if the horcrux cave was just like, on the other side of this island?
This story wasn’t quite as well put together as the others, was it? How did they get there? How long did they plan to stay? Did Vernon take time off from work, or was it literally just, “We’ll be here tonight so the owls will go away”?
If I had a nickel for every time I’ve done that…
What kind of security deposit do you have to put down on a shack in the middle of a rock formation in the middle of the ocean? The realtor who sold them this must have came in his pants when he got that call.
“Andy Dufresne crawled through a river of shit…”
Aww… a birthday cake drawn in the dirt. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but… don’t you sweep up a bit before sleeping on the floor? Because that’s a significant amount of dirt.
Why do you have a shotgun? Why would you bring a shotgun to the middle of fucking nowhere? Do you REALLY think whatever made it here and is about to break down your door is gonna go down that easily?
“Dry up, Dursley, you great prune.”
The British have like, a whole other level of insults.
Hagrid introduces himself to Harry. He says he has something for him, which he baked himself, “words and all.”
Uhh… all right. How does one bake words?
To be fair, he did only get through two years of wizard school.
Note that the kids never take English or anything like that. There’s no foreign languages or anything. If you’re going to learn something practical, you’d better learn it before the age of 10. And fuck tertiary education, you start work at 17. You think Professor Binns has the time to be correcting your shitty fourth grade grammar? For that matter, what do magical kids do until they go to Hogwarts? Maybe that’s why Hermione’s so far beyond anyone else’s talents — she has like 5 years of ACTUAL school under her belt while everyone else has been sitting around eating chocolate frogs.
I love how wizarding school is basically like being recruited to play college athletics. You don’t need to be able to read, you just need a specific set of skills.
But also, that is right. You don’t ever hear about wizard grad school. You just kind of go to work. Though I guess Aurors have training, so I guess it just becomes more like trade school for each of the different professions. Since aurors are basically cops anyway.
Never forget — Harry Potter grew up to be a cop.
Honestly, if I had magical powers, that’s what I’d use them for. Mostly toward undesirables. And also stuff like, “Accio remote.”
Hagrid talks about Hogwarts. Harry don’t know anything ’bout no Hogwarts. (He’s never been with a woman from Knockturn Alley before.)
“You’re a wizard, Harry.”
Question — Hagrid asks Harry if he’d ever made anything strange happen when he was angry or scared, and Harry says yes. Does that mean that all witches and wizards have this ability from a young age and can’t control it? So what if a kid gets pissed off at daycare and uses magic accidentally to mess up the other kids? They can’t just stop that stuff from happening.
Harry finally gets his letter.
The weird thing is there’s no kind of application process whatsoever. Or does he automatically get in as a legacy/celebrity? What if Hogwarts was his safety school?
We find out that Petunia’s sister was Harry’s mother (Note: Their names are Lily and Petunia. Somebody had a sense of humor) and she resented her for being a witch. When they took Harry in, they decided they weren’t gonna let him do that stuff (and then treated him like an indentured servant because he reminded them that he could do that stuff, I guess).
While we’re on this image, I would like to remind everyone that Vernon and Petunia made Dudley with sex. Have fun trying to un-imagine that.
Un-imagine it? I’m already three chapters into my fanfic.
So, so many shades of grey.
These facial expressions are amazing.
They want no part of letting Harry go to this school.
“You gotta be fucking kidding me.”
Seriously, has he been going to school before this in any way? Do we ever find that out? Presumably he has, but also like — no books, no homework, just little fucking army men under the stairs.
I love how they’re fighting over Harry like it’s Kramer vs. Kramer.
Aww, Harry… this is what it’s like to have real parents!
Also, my god, look at those pants on Harry. What is this, The Machinist?
We’ve all been there.
There are very few people who appreciate a hypothetical crossover reference like that. Cleary, I’m one of them.
It’s a chap!
“Use the Force (Tuppence a Bag)”
Aw, that’s nothing. I’ve had tails taken off before. Shit, I got a guy.
This is white people finding out their favorite TV show is getting cancelled.
Anyway, Hagrid and Harry leave.
Is he on the bike here? Do they just get soaked until they get out of the storm? Because Hagrid showed up to this place pretty dry. And he can’t really practice magic, so I wonder how that worked.
I also completely buy that after only two years of sanctioned magical learning, all he knows how to do is shit like put a tail on someone. The learning at this school, as we’ll find out, and what people actually learn how to do through class versus on their own is, shall we say, eclectic.
Harry has to get school supplies. He has no idea how to do that. Hagrid says it’s easy, “if you know where to go.”
The shifty ass A-rab down the corner, of course.
Where did that phrase start? Was it Resident Evil 4? The cloaked merchant guy who opens his coat like, “What you need, man? I got it all”? Wherever it’s from, that dude’s my hero. We could all use a shifty-ass Arab guy who sells us stuff indiscriminately, never asks what it’s for and always compliments the purchase, whether we spent $30 or $30,000.
And for those asking — yes, the shiftiness is what makes him great. Because you know this guy’s seen some shit. Especially because all those guys in those video games are just untouchable. You just came from having to murder like 35 hard-to-kill monsters and almost got eaten alive, meanwhile this guy’s like a hundred feet away, totally unbothered like, “Hey man, what you need.” Absolute legend shit.
The Leaky Cauldron. I had some wild times up in there.
A Leaky Cauldron is also what I have after I eat too much Taco Bell.
Everybody knows Harry.
That’s how you know you’re an alcoholic, showing up at a bar you’ve never been to before and they all know you.
That Cheers theme song takes on a much creepier vibe if it’s your first time in a place and everyone knows who you are, doesn’t it?
I also would like to point out this rando who has seemingly hidden all their long hair under their hat except on the sides.
Oh Quirrell, you stuttering prick, you.
It’s weird how this kid’s been missing for eleven years and yet people immediately recognize him the minute he steps foot on magical turf. The scar’s not that visible.
Also would you ever trust a white dude in a turban? That almost feels like the white girl who comes back from vacation with cornrows.
Looks like the Kool Aid Man’s been there already.
♫ “We don’t need no education” ♫
Is this what visual effects were in 2001?
Everyone here is dressed like it’s Halloween in Doctor Zhivago.
Ever notice how Rowling and the rest of the literary community subscribe to this idea of witchcraft being a medieval thing? Their towns are all twisted and old, they use candles, they wear robes. It really feels like they have no contact with the outside world at all. But then you see them wearing sneakers, and you know there ain’t no Nike Store in Diagon Alley. This all bothers me.
Imagine Diagon Alley getting a Supreme store.
I also like how they casually go to them wearing sneakers in the later movies out of nowhere and we all just kind of accept it.
Gringotts. The only bank in the wizarding world. Too big to fail, apparently.
And sideways. It’s like if the Flatiron Building got shit-faced and tried to walk home.
I actually really like this set. It’s almost German Expressionist without going all the way. More things should emulate German Expressionism.
Also, what’s with the building next to it? It looks like that house on the block that caught fire and just stayed like that for years because no one ever fixed it up again. Looks like they also had to put up beams just to prevent it from falling onto the bank rather than just, you know, fixing it.
I also like that Gringotts has a balcony. That looks exactly like the spot where a corrupt mayor would assure the town that the recent string of deaths has absolutely nothing to do with that ancient burial ground he had them build over last year.
“Rapunzel, Rapunzel… let down your ATM card.”
Looks like the seven dwarfs made a deposit today.
As if to illustrate my point, what’s with the cobwebs and shit? With magic, they can keep everything clean and perfect, but there are RIDICULOUS cobwebs in this bank’s front lobby which leads me to believe that the filmmakers went out of their way to make everything look seriously medieval. I’d be more into this universe if it tried to reconcile with modern reality instead of coming off like a purpose-built Halloween haunted house.
How’s a goblin gonna get all the way up there to clean? They don’t have any house elves to do it for them. No, but seriously… maybe some Windex on that shit.
It’s weird how that the Goblins are basically coded as Jews. They don’t even try to hide it, either. That’s that casual racism we’ve come to expect in children’s movies.
Griphook, my man.
What do you need to lean down for? I’m pretty sure you can hear him.
“I wanna take a good look at this motherfucker earning all this interest.”
I’ve also always remembered that line, when Hagrid says Harry wants to go into his vault. And Griphook’s just like, “And does Mr. Harry Potter have his key?” Which is funny, since, in seven movies, they go to break into Bellatrix’s vault, they want her wand and not her key. Which makes more sense. Who the hell needs keys when you can apparate?
Though I guess it would make sense if, in your first trip to the vault, you brought your key. And then after that you’re cool. But I’m pretty sure at this point they’re just banking on the “wow, magic” aspect of it all.
Why would you walk around with something labeled ‘Top Secret’ on it?
“It’s about you-know-what in vault you-know-which?” What is it, a sex toy? Harry doesn’t have a clue what they’re talking about, so unless you’re on an errand to pick up Dumbledore’s anal beads, just tell us what it is.
Also, think about that when you go to sleep tonight. Dumbledore may well have had anal beads.
Also, this is the only bank that we know of in this world. Do you really think there’s only one vault with some super top secret shit in it? There’s no way there’s no Nazi gold in one of those vaults. Grindelwald’s Secret Treasure that he looted from the French. 100% there are secrets within this bank that are way more of a big deal than some old dude’s anti-aging rock.
“We’ve got top wizards working on it now. Top… wizards.”
And not to veer too off course, but do we think Dumbledore was a top wizard or a bottom wizard?
“The Head Goblin – in charge of all Goblins.”
Maybe just call him by his name.
Also — Dumbledore, Grindelwald, Call Me By Your Name. It basically writes itself.
I guess I am curious about the notion of how much they save on postage versus the fact that owls are basically slaves.
Okay, I can’t let this go — if he’s the HEAD goblin, in charge of ALL OTHER GOBLINS… surely you’d know his name. Right? Is this a power move by Dumbledore? Has to be, right?
Harry Potter and the Temple of Doom.
Which, also — this bank TOTALLY has a warehouse with all of wizardom’s secrets in giant crates. How could it not?
I want a spinoff entirely on this bank and all the crazy shit that’s in here.
I’d say If These Walls Could Talk, but in this universe, they probably can.
Also, let’s not forget that not far from here, there’s a dragon being forcibly chained and kept here just in case some people try to come rob them. Kinda wonder how they got it here, being goblins and all, but I guess I’ll save that question for when we get to that movie.
This is a theme park exhibit waiting to happen. Get in the cart, in some dark cave-looking thing. Go from bank vault to bank vault, exploring. Get on this, guys.
(Note: Apparently they did get on this a year after this article was first published. But it’s in Orlando, which is a lot less magical than Diagon Alley.)
Why would you make the vault doors so big if goblins are gonna be that size?
Also, Griphook is played by Verne Troyer in this film. Because this was before they were like, “Fuck it, just have Warwick play all the dwarf parts.”
Do we ever find out where Harry got all that money? What the hell did his parents do?
You thought cocaine was strictly a muggle thing?
Lily was dealing some poppies.
But seriously, where do you get all that money? That’s a Scrooge McDuck vault.
Apparently Harry’s father came from money and was independently wealthy. Which is just so fucked up that the most famous wizard in all the land just happens to be a rich kid born into privilege, but the circumstances of his upbringing sort of allow us to not hate him immediately on principle for that. Learn from Batman — doesn’t matter how rich you are, if you’re an orphan, we’ll still kind of give you a pass.
Vault 713: The Good Shit.
713 is also the area code for Houston, Texas, which I imagine thrilled some people who saw this movie for the first time when they were young.
These are the kind of things I’m interested in when I watch movies. I can’t help it.
This image of the door opening always stuck with me. Not sure why.
This is also what apartment locks look like in the hood.
Goblin drug deals!
There’s something really precious about an immortality stone being carefully wrapped with shitty kraft paper and string.
I also kinda like the notion that their way of hiding this super important magical artifact is by leaving it in a vault by itself with a spotlight on it. Maybe like, put it in with some dead wizard’s shit from his apartment in a dusty ass drawer or whatever. In case someone breaks in and is like, “Goddamn, this is all worthless.” Even if I weren’t trying to break into the bank for this and saw something sitting here I’d immediately want it because I’d assume it was important.
Let’s pause to reflect that the one thing that is the crux of this film — that Voldemort is trying to steal — was locked up in a vault at a bank where it is presumably totally safe and now is being taken to a school to be guarded be safety measures that three eleven-year-olds can outsmart. Good plan.
Anyway, they get the package and Harry gets his school supplies. All except a wand. Obviously you go to Ollivander’s for that.
It’s weird how both Gringotts and Ollivanders are not canonically punctuated and yet, at least for Ollivanders, it’s clearly his wand shop. Maybe that harkens back to none of these people actually getting proper educations before learning magic?
If I lived in this world, I’d totally want to be a wand maker. That job sounds awesome.
John Hurt should enter all his movies like that.
I love how Harry doesn’t have to say shit – Ollivander’s like, “I know just what you need, kid.”
They try two wands, and they don’t work, so Ollivander goes to get the secret stash.
I’m kind of like a wandmaker but with booze. “Oak barrel, six and three quarter years aged. Tennessee, but not too far east in Tennessee…”
I’d say it was a 30-year-old fine, indifferently blended, sir… with an overdose of bon-bois.
A wandmaker is kind of like a sommelier. You just gotta know your shit. I feel like that must be some insane training. Give me a spinoff about Ollivander too, learning to make wands and going around, putting wands together and getting dragon strings and all that. You know, after he was a saucier back in New Orleans.
Spoke too soon.
♫ When you got that glow… ♫
Ollivander says that’s “Curious. Very curious.”
AKA, “What the fuck was that shit?”
“I remember every wand I’ve ever sold, Mr. Potter. It so happens that the phoenix whose tailfeather resides in your wand gave another feather – just one other. It is curious that you should be destined for this wand, when it’s brother gave you that scar.”
I know I should be focusing on the rest of that speech, but… I couldn’t not.
And who gave him that scar?
Kinda want to know how it went with that phoenix and how it only ended up giving two feathers for wands. That makes it sound like it was the phoenix’s choice.
I’m picturing them knocking on the phoenix’s door to ask for a donation and the phoenix opening it, holding the two feathers like, “I suppose you’re looking for this.”
“The wand chooses the wizard, Mr. Potter.”
I really am like a wandmaker but with booze. This sounds exactly like what I would tell people. “The drink chooses the drinker, Frank, son of Richard.”
Also with movies. I could 100% pull off life as an Ollivander for movies.
But also, the wand chooses the wizard. That implies that wands are intrinsically meant for people, and on a certain level either the wizard rejects the wand or the wand rejects the wizard. So basically because he almost got murdered by a wand that automatically decided what want he gets in the future? Because I feel like a boy this famous, all the other wands would want to work with him, right?
I know the answer probably has to do with the horcrux and him being inexplicably tied to Voldemort forever, but still.
Ollivander says they can expect great things out of Harry, given that’s the wand that chose him. Since He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named (Frank Stallone) had a similar wand and did great things. Terrible things, but… great things.
Can we get this out of the way now? What’s with them not being able to say Voldemort? I think it’s the silliest shit ever. He’s like their Hitler, right? That one guy that everybody knows and generally thinks is evil. But wouldn’t it be simpler to just be like, “Remember Voldemort? What a cunt he was!”
Them not being able to say the name makes me unable to take them seriously. Like people who whisper swear words even when it’s just you two. You think I fucking care? You’re still saying it and nobody else is here to overhear you. You’re afraid of your own voice? For shit’s sake.
Voldemort: What a Cunt He Was. A Biography by Rita Skeeter.
Also, potential subtitle for this article.
(Though if I’m being honest, I think we all figure Rita Skeeter as the person who’d write a book trying to make the point that Voldemort… maybe he wasn’t such a bad guy. She’d definitely be on Wizarding Fox and Friends.)
Aww… Hagrid bought Harry an owl for his birthday. (An owl that does NOT want to be in that cage right now. Either that or it’s so stoned it thinks Harry’s forehead is shooting lightning.)
Also, I have no idea what that circle indentation thing is on the window, but I love it.
Two things. First, what kind of fucking savages do you have in this place, having a fire in the middle of the floor like that? Second… is that an ass-shaped stool?
Anyway, Hagrid then explains the facts of life to Harry. You know, there are good wizards and bad wizards. And sometimes, when a good wizard and a bad wizard love each other…
He also explains Voldemort and all that, and we have this flashback:
Voldemort in this movie always made me think of Garlic Jr. from Dragon Ball Z.
Jesus… this movie looks bad. Thank god they went with Alfonso Cuaron for Azkaban. Who knows how fucked up this franchise could have turned out.
Though I guess it is funny that even genocidal wizards still have to use Alohomora.
This looks like a bad PSA for domestic abuse.
How bad does this look? Seriously. I remember thinking as I watched Deathly Hallows – “You’re gonna be stuck having to go back to that shitty flashback from the first movie, aren’t you?” And sure enough, they did. Though it does remain a credit to them that they cast the three leads insanely well. They cast this whole franchise really well.
Is James dead already? Where is he in all of this?
I feel like that was them not knowing where this was going but just assuming they’d have to cast up the father later so they didn’t want to have to retcon it, but assumed, “Oh, we can just get any old rando for the mom.”
No joke, this looks like it could have been a Goosebumps episode.
Are You Afraid of the Dark Lord?
Something I try never to do.
I like how baby Harry has a hint of a mullet. Cause it was the 80s, so… of course.
Look at that subtle look he gives him.
“Go ahead… I dare you. I’ve seen everything but Jesus no way.”
Hagrid explains that’s why Harry’s famous. He’s the Boy Who Lived.
Part of me is thinking about what’s gonna happen in like 50 years when Harry gets diagnosed with a terminal illness based on all the shit that happened to him. And then he’ll be like, “I don’t want to just be the Boy Who Lived, I want to be the Boy Who REALLY Lived.”
Anyway, no time to dwell upon that shit now, we got a train to catch.
Which is where we’ll END PART I.
– – – – – – – – – –
Tune in tomorrow for part II, where we’ll cover Hogwarts, the Sorting Hat, the sexual tension amongst gingers and Quidditch.
(See the rest of the Fun with Franchises articles here.)