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Beetlejuice (20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)

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It's showtime!! 80%

  • Jul 4, 2011
Beetlejuice has been one of those movies that was a favorite of mine as a kid, but haven't watched in ages, and finally saw the whole thing recently. After watching it again, it's still a fun and dark movie that'll cheer you up on a bad day (even if you're having a good day, watching this movie will probably make your day better).


In a quaint small town in New England, newlyweds Adam and Barbara Maitland (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) drown in the river on their way home from the hardware store. The couple soon learns they're dead, but things get worse when the Deetz family, and obnoxious family from New York, buys their house and is changing everything, much to Adam and Barbara's dismay. Their efforts to scare away the Deetz family come to no avail, so they're very tempted to get help from a freelancing bio-exorcist named Betelgeuse (Michael Keaton), but it could mean serious trouble if they summon him.


The characters in Beetlejuice are well done. Catherine O'Hara does a really good job as Delia Deetz, whose the most obnoxious in the family as she's constantly demanding that the family's new house be remodeled to her weird artistic tastes, and that she's self-absorbed into her weird artwork (her abstract metal sculptures certainly look like things Tim Burton would make). Winona Ryder does a fantastic job of playing Lydia Deetz, whose a goth girl that's the only one who can see the ghosts of Adam and Barbara. Ryder nails the goth personality in the movie as she has a strong interest in all things "dark and weird" yet has some emotional diversity as to not make her look like a painfully cliche cardboard-cutout of a mopey teenager in black attire. Jeffrey Jones does a good job of playing Charles Deetz, who nails the personality of a man whose lost his nerves and only wants to hide in his special part of the house and relax while he's clipping coupons and bird-watching. Baldwin and Davis do a fine job as well with their roles as Adam and Barbara, as they match the feeling of a newlywed couple, and act believably as ghosts since they act in desperation due to their scare tactics not really working all that well (they'd do better with Betelgeuse's help later on). Of course, it's Betelgeuse that's the center of the show, even though he doesn't create a heavy presence until the latter half of the film. He's delightfully disgusting, perverted, crude, but most of all, hilarious. He certainly masters that rare trait of being antagonistic yet likeable (a similar feat Jack Nicholson would accomplish as the Joker in Batman a year after this movie), as he's doing nasty things to the main characters yet delivers such humorous lines and gags.


While not as heavy as visuals as compared to another iconic Tim Burton movie like Batman, Beetlejuice has some really good visuals that have that distinctive Tim Burton feeling to them. The cinematography of New England is quite pretty, and is a good contrast to the weird and dark visuals Burton is best known for (this is also the first Burton film where that style is fully realized). The "weird and dark" visuals are largely restricted to the world of the afterlife. You got charred green corpses smoking cigarettes, deceased poachers with shrunken heads, Barbara hiding in a closet and tearing off her face when Delia and Otho appear (no avail in scaring them), the Deetz family and their guests singing and dancing to "Day-O" before being attacked by haunted shrimp, dead football players confusing an afterlife social worker for their coach, Betelgeuse turning into a snake that peeks up Delia's skirt and drops Charles off a second floor, "sand worms" in a surreal dessert-like dimension similar in spirit to Wackyland (featured in the Porky Pig cartoon "Dough for the Do Do"), and even Delia's metal sculptures come to life towards the end of the film (there's more, but I think that gives you a good idea). Overall, I think the weird visuals in this movie were the prototypes for A Nightmare Before Christmas (and I mean that in a good way).


Betelgeuse is the main source of humor in this movie, and he delivers some really potent laughs throughout. I personally felt the scene where he's hiding in Adam's model of their town and lures a fly to its demise with a Zagnut bar to be one of the funniest, as he grabs the fly and pays homage to The Fly screaming "Help me! Help me!" as he grabs the fly. Another notable funny moment is when Adam and Barbara ask Betelgeuse if he's "qualified" to be scary, he lists all of his accomplishments over the last several hundred years and says "I've seen The Exorcist 167 times, and it only gets funnier every time I watch it!!" Betelgeuse even does some more subtle things that still squeeze some hearty laughs out of me, like when Adam and Barbara shrink him back into the model town, Barbara grabs him and Betelgeuse makes her drop him by making a bunch of spikes pop out of his torso. Even some scenes that aren't centered around Betelgeuse are still pretty darn funny, such as when Juno, Adam and Barbara's afterlife social worker, has a bunch of dead football players swarming her and Juno has to constantly tell them that she's not their coach and to berate them for their overall stupidity.


Danny Elfman strikes more musical gold for his soundtrack in this movie. The main score of the film has a very whimsical feel to it, setting the mood for the film very well. There's also some scores that retain the whimsical feel of the main score but add some darker tones to match the darker scenes in the film. The use of the songs "Day-O" and "Jump in the Line (Shake Shake Senora)" also fit very well with the scenes they belong to.


Despite being a PG film, there's still some content that parents will be uneasy with in letting their kids see, due to the fact that PG films from the 80's had more leniency in what content was allowed on film. Betelgeuse goes to a small brothel Juno imagined in Adam's model of the town and there's one instance each of him dropping the F-bomb and S-bomb. After watching this movie for the first time in ages, I'm really surprised they made a spinoff cartoon series geared for kids, as they had to change around Betelgeuse's character a lot for the cartoon.


While the product placement in this movie isn't nearly as heavy as the Pepsi endorsements featured in the Sylvester Stallone film Cobra, it's clear that the Coca Cola corporation help sponsor the movie as there's clear shots of a Coke can at the dinner table (the "Day-O" scene) and of Minute Made orange juice. I don't know if K-Mart sponsored the film or not, but I did find Betelgeuse saying "Attention K-Mart shoppers" before he torments the Deetz family and their guests near the end to be pretty funny.


Beetlejuice isn't a deep or profound film, and it doesn't try to be. It's a very funny dark comedy that's certainly unique. If you want some classic dark comedy, then Beetlejuice should be in your collection. If anything, seeing Michael Keaton as a hilariously wacky ghoul alone is worth it.

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More Beetlejuice (20th Anniversary ... reviews
review by . June 11, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Beetlejuice is one of those flicks that I think I've seen at least 50 times over the years and I never get tired of it. This is one of those film projects where practically every aspect of film making just came together to produce something that for my money is just about as close to perfect as you can get. It's funny and light while also being fairly dark and morbid. It has a wonderful mix of special effects, from practical and optical to animation (mostly stop motion), most of which haven't dated …
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David Kozak ()
Ranked #21
I'm a morbid cynic who thinks very, very differently from most other people. Chances are, if the majority says X is the greatest in its category, I'll disagree with that notion, because I tend … more
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About this movie


Before makingBatman, director Tim Burton and star Michael Keaton teamed up for this popular black comedy about a young couple (Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin) whose premature death leads them to a series of wildly bizarre afterlife exploits. As ghosts in their own New England home, they're faced with the challenge of scaring off the pretentious new owners (Catherine O'Hara and Jeffrey Jones), whose daughter (Winona Ryder) has an affinity for all things morbid. Keaton plays the mischievous Beetlejuice, a freelance "bio-exorcist" who's got an evil agenda behind his plot to help the young undead newlyweds. The film is a perfect vehicle for Burton's visual style and twisted imagination, with clever ideas and gags packed into every scene.Beetlejuiceis also a showcase for Keaton, who tackles his title role with maniacal relish and a dark edge of menace.--Jeff Shannon
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Director: Tim Burton
DVD Release Date: September 16, 2008
Runtime: 92 minutes
Studio: Warner Home Video
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