Movies »Beetlejuice

directed by Tim Burton (1988)

I have seen the Tim Burton comedy Beetlejuice so very many times as a kid that I was a little reluctant to re-watch it at Jim’s request, but the surreal, lighthearted darkness was exactly what I didn’t even know I was in the mood for. Among many achievements, including memorable and clever makeup, effects, costumes (love Lydia’s black head wear and the glove headband) and set design, this boasts a great cast including Noni’s best role yet as a goth teen. Jefferey Jone and Catharine O’Hara, who are really always excellent don’t break the streak here and Geena Davis is likable and goofy while Alec Baldwin is almost unrecognizably earnest and fresh faced as a loving couple that finds themselves recently deceased (and remind me of soon to be married friends Luke and Ashleigh). Michael Keaton, in an unexpected role, is the gross out Beetlejuice, who so easily could have become an unbearable character and yet is a classic. It’s a strange feat, but not quite as strange as the animated series that spun off in 89 that was an inexplicable hit.

It’s one of Burton’s very best (behind only Peewee’s Big Adventure and Ed Wood in my assessment) and it makes me wonder, after painfully sitting through the wildly disappointing Alice in Wonderland (or as another disappointed friend eloquently called it Alice in Buttholeland), what exactly happened to him? Is it the large budgets getting in the way? An ego from a lifetime of success and fame? Is the problem that he isn’t writing his own material? Does Johnny Depp or Helena Bonham Carter have some malicious power over his skills? I wish someone could get to the bottom of it, because I’d love to see him making a movie that brings together his unique vision, an endearing plot and just plain likability together as successfully as Beetlejuice again.

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Posted on May 16, 2010

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