Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant isn't particularly freaky, and it sure could use some assistance. Some critics' takes:
- Peter Travers doesn't deign to explain the film's loose ends. "All you need to know is that the movie is a setup for sequels that I hope never come," he writes in Rolling Stone. It also "commits the cardinal sin for a vampire movie: It’s bloodless."
- Claudia Puig was tickled by the flick. The union of a "universe of freaks" and "a pair of teen geeks" is "celebrated with gusto and dark humor by director Paul Weitz," she writes for USA Today. Sure, "this genre hybrid is uneven," but "it offers quite a few laughs, if not all-out scares."
- The film features some redeeming scenes, writes Jason Anderson of the Toronto Star, but most "do such a poor job of aping Harry Potter and Twilight that the movie's many references to Darren's future adventures smack of misplaced confidence."
- The real problem is miscasting. John C. Reilly somehow manages to pull off "debonair vampire," but newcomer Chris Massogli is all wrong as the teen lead. "Imagine," Peter Hartlaub writes in the San Francisco Chronicle, "if Anthony Edwards had the Maverick role in Top Gun."