Beetlejuice is a 1988 fantasy comedy film directed by Tim Burton and starring Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Winona Ryder and Michael Keaton. It is one of the director’s most respected films and rightfully so as it truly is superb.
It is about a recently deceased young couple who want to get rid of the new people in their house and they get help from a devious ghost. The story is the film’s biggest strength while also being its biggest weakness. Let me elaborate. It is such an authentic and rich tale filled with astonishing attention to detail, great energy and impeccable imagination. It is riveting from beginning to end and it is always wildly original. But it is also extremely uneven in terms of pacing and storytelling. Some parts were too wild and the whole third act is really disappointing in terms of plot because it was never as interesting or as fresh as before. It is also very rushed in the end, while also being sluggish in pace in its first half. But the overall charm, originality and inventiveness of it all leads to such a memorable and unique experience.
The characters are mostly terrific. The title character is most certainly the highlight with his crazy and wild persona and such an authentic look. But it is interesting that he appears only in the second half of the film and although usually it is better for memorable supporting characters to have as little screen time as possible, here I would say that there should have been more from him nonetheless as he is the highlight. But when he is in the picture, he steals the show and is quite remarkable.
Adam and Barbara are quite boring when compared to the rest of the characters, but they are purposefully innocent and normal as to counteract the other crazy characters. And they are also quite charming. The rest of the characters are all pretty good, but it is Lydia who is the best of all as she is such a unique character with her goth appearance and weird behavior, but she’s good-natured and so good to Adam and Barbara and their relationship is one of the strongest points in the movie with some touching moments as well.
The acting is fantastic across the board. Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis are both good, but it is Winona Ryder who shines in her role and is such a revelation at such a young age. And of course Michael Keaton steals every scene he is in, delivering probably his best performance to date. All of the actors and actresses are really good and they bring professional gravitas to the table.
Beetlejuice is especially a technically remarkable feature. It is wonderfully directed by Tim Burton and extremely well acted by its talented cast. But the sound effects are excellent and the score is really good with the two songs in it being incredibly catchy and fun. And it is visually such a stunning film with typical Burton imagery at display with excellent puppetry and stop-motion. However, the special effects aren’t as good and the scenes with the worm are very dated in look and are mediocre when compared to the other sequences filled with superb make-up and extraordinarily inventive character design. The imagination is just phenomenal here and the endless authenticity is evident.
But the pacing is weird and very poorly handled with the third act that is just a huge, overwhelming mess. It should have been much better as the previous parts were all excellent. And the tone is also jarring as the musical and horror elements don’t mash as well as fantasy and comedy usually do. But the film does have a big heart, an evident charm and it is a hugely memorable movie. The humor is also fantastic with incredibly funny Michael Keaton who has many hilarious lines and ingenious slapstick. But the whole movie is funny and even hilarious from time to time and it is just incredibly entertaining throughout its whole running time.
Beetlejuice is certainly one of the best Tim Burton movies. It isn’t as good as ‘Edward Scissorhands‘ of course and it is inferior to underappreciated ‘Big Fish‘, but it is still one of the very best of his other movies without a doubt and it deserves its cult, even classic status as it is perfect for today’s audiences and especially during Halloween.
Beetlejuice is definitely uneven in terms of storytelling and pacing while also having some tonal inconsistencies, but it is such a wildly original, wonderfully entertaining and hugely imaginative work filled with some beautiful imagery, memorable story, well developed characters, terrific humor and some great antics.
My Rating – 4
Interior & Exterior Stills in Beetlejuice
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