Leaving an early screening of Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant this week, I heard an amazed teenage girl say to her companions, "It's, like, a vampire movie, but it's funny!" As if such a thing weren't possible. But then, the average teen was in kindergarten when Buffy was in its prime, and 80's movies like Fright Night and Once Bitten are ancient history. Funny vampires?! Who knew?

As Peter Hall says in his excellent Cinematical review of Cirque, it's a shame that this particular movie feels as if it were rushed out to take advantage of the current Twilight and True Blood fueled vamp renaissance. Based on the first three volumes of the popular kid-lit series by Darren Shan, the film bumps the twelve-year-old hero's age to 16 -- the better, one supposes, to promote the flick to the Twilight crowd, despite it being a piece with a completely different flavor, based on books for kids between the ages of 10 and 12.

If you think it's a stretch that Cirque's being marketed to the sparkly-vampire crowd, check out the design of one of the posters (above). Wow ... it's totally Robert Pattinson! Except that it's not. Take a look below, to see what actor Chris Massoglia really looks like in the movie.

It's no wonder that girl was so confused by Cirque's tone -- she was probably expecting midnight bedroom stalkings and vampire baseball instead of scar-faced John C. Reilly and a bearded Salma Hayek. Note that I said "surprised," not "disappointed." Because Cirque Du Freak's actually a whole lot of fun ... unlike some other vampire movies we could name.