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BEETLEJUICE - 1988
Rated: Argentina: 13 / Australia: M / Canada, Israel, New Zealand, Singapore, USA: PG / Chile: TE / Finland: K-12 / France: Unrated / Germany, Iceland: 12 / Ireland, Norway, Sweden, UK: 15 / Peru: PT / Portugal: M/12 / Spain: T / South Korea: All / Sweden: 11
The Maitland's are just this small town loving couple who are on vacation and can't keep their hands off each other. When he isn't playing with his wife, Adam (Alec Baldwin: THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, MALICE, THE SHADOW, FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRITS WITHIN, THE DEPARTED) toys with the hobby of building a miniature replica of the small town they live in, in their attic. When she isn't playing with her husband, Barbara (Geena Davis: THE FLY ) toys with the hobby of decorating their home. Adam and Barbara both want children, but it just hasn't happened yet. Barbara's cousin, Jane (Annie McEnroe: SNOWBEAST, THE HAND, WARLORDS OF THE 21st CENTURY, HOWLING II: YOUR SISTER IS A WEREWOLF) is a pushy real estate agent who is not above using Adam and Barbara's inability to have children as a reason to try and sell their home out from under them.
But Adam and Barbara have each other and, for the moment and this vacation, that's enough. Adam decides to go down the hill and into town to his store and pick up some odds and ends for his model town.
Merry Mishaps occur.
When they return home, something just doesn't feel right. They didn't start a fire in their fireplace for one thing. The sunlight seems odd for another, and there is a book on one of their tables for the Recently Deceased.
As they try and figure out just what is going on and what has become of them,
Jane, dressed in black and under the pretense of grieving, quickly sells their house.
The new family, the Deetz, are led by self-absorbed control freak,
Delia (Scene stealing scene-chewing, Catherine O'Hara: THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, CHICKEN LITTLE, MONSTER HOUSE). Delia is the shrill wife of Charles (Jeffrey Jones: THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, ED WOOD, THE DEVIL'S ADVOCATE, RAVENOUS), and manipulative step-mother to Lydia (Winona Ryder: DRACULA , EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, ALIEN: RESURRECTION, LOST SOULS, STAR TREK , BLACK SWAN). Delia goes through life needing to destroy everything she sees and replace it with her own "vision".
Assisting Delia in her expensive hobby is Otho (Glenn Shadix: SLEEPWALKERS, THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, PLANET OF THE APES , CARNIVALE [TV], THE FINAL CURTAIN), a disguised con artist who seems to pull bizarre professions and experience out of thin air as the need calls for them.
Otho and Delia are out to destroy the Maitland's old house and re-create it in their pathetic image. This is something that Adam and Barbara can't abide, seeing as how they are forced to haunt their old house.
They try to scare the Deetz's into leaving, but as ghosts, they cannot be seen... well, except by Lydia. And Lydia isn't scared of ghosts. Dressed not merely in black, but in mourning, Lydia wallows in self-pity as befits her Emo life-style. Having actual ghosts in the house is really the best thing someone like Lydia could want.
Adam and Barbara, unable to make any headway in ridding their house of unwanted living pests, are approached by a filthy little character by the name of Beetlejuice (Michael Keeton: BATMAN, PACIFIC HEIGHTS, BATMAN RETURNS, WHITE NOISE). Beetlejuice tries his best to appeal to the Maitland's to let him "bio-exorcise" their home. The Maitland's try their book on being Deceased first, and that takes them to another realm where they discover that the afterlife is run pretty much like an unemployment bureau. Their caseworker is Juno (the late Sylvia Sydney: SABOTAGE, SNOWBEAST, DAMIEN: OMEN II, MARS ATTACKS!), an irritable, chain-smoking woman with a slashed throat that seeps the smoke she attempts to inhale. Juno tells them to stay away from Beetlejuice, read the manual, and figure out on their own how to scare the Deetz's away.
Of course, nothing is going to work out quite right until Beetlejuice is summoned and we know that things can only get worse from there.
Director Tim Burton took writer Michael McDowell's unfunny, scary script, BEETLEJUICE, and brought on other writers to turn it into something else. The late McDowell (THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS) was a 1980s writer largely known to his fans for the BLACKWATER series of novels. Producer Larry Wilson (THE ADDAMS FAMILY) got involved in rewrites, and then Warren Skaaren (BATMAN ) filled in the rest.
Of course, the movie will of with Tim Burton's trademark "Silly scene". Not everyone likes these, and it is specifically because Tim does this, that not everyone likes Tim. But I adore Burton's work and I can live through them!
What we get out of BEETLEJUICE is not a laugh a minute comedy. It's not quite a comedy at all. But until there is a genre called "Fun", comedy will have to do.
BEETLEJUICE is inspired, madcap, and inventive fun! And the best part is, it stays fun viewing after viewing.
Four Shriek Girls.
copyright 2011 E.C.McMullen Jr.
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