Beetlejuice

So we’re trying to get back in the habit of exposing our children to the stuff we liked as kids, instead of either letting them choose (which means hours of Spongebob and iCarly reruns or Toy Story 3) or forcing them to watch what we’re watching (usually Hoarders, inappropriate sitcoms or Hockey). Since both our kids have been watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory obsessively, my husband took the initiative to sit them down and watch Beetlejuice. I was so proud of him, I could shit.

I didn’t think much about it, but I was older than my son is now when Beetlejuice came out. Even so, he was fine with it – nothing freaked him out. (I wasn’t worried at all about my daughter. She is tougher than her older brother – she recently watched Poltergeist without batting an eye, but it would be too much for my son.) In any case, when we asked him what he thought, all he would say is, “It was cool.” What the fucking fuck? After he watched The Wiz, he wouldn’t shut up about it. I waited days and my son never mentioned Beetlejuice. Finally, a few days ago, my son asked if we have Beetlejuice on DVD so he could watch it again. YES!

I tried to tell my four year old that Beetlejuice is Ken, but I don’t think she understood.

On a personal note, I don’t remember watching Beetlejuice for the first time, but I assume it was on rental, I don’t remember watching it in the theater. I do know that we rented it repeatedly from Showtime Video and Price-Lo. (Yes, the town I grew up in was so shitty that we didn’t even have a Blockbuster.) We never missed the Beetlejuice cartoon either. (Yeah, I was a bit older than cartoon age when it came out – don’t judge.) I even dressed up as Lydia for my 8th grade career class. The project was to create a commercial – I don’t remember what I was selling, but it involved pouring a bag of junebugs on my friend Shelley’s head…(I have pictures, but I sure as shit am NOT posting them.) That class was fucking useless. I certainly am NOT a Fashion Designer, as I presumed back then, but that’s a different story entirely.

   

Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Oh, Tim Burton, you’re like a tampon…when you do your job well, I love you…but when you fuck up, I hate you and I swear I’ll never trust you again….

Visually stunning as Alice in Wonderland was, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was watching twenty pounds of shit in a ten pound bag. Tim Burton can’t stop taking stories we all know and love and cramming them with so much backstory that you sit there, annoyed as hell, hardly able to enjoy the ride. I’ve complained about this beforeI’ve complained about this and not known what I was complaining aboutSometimes it doesn’t bother me at all. I just need to come to terms with the fact that the days of Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands are gone and Tim Burton is just going to keep on remaking old films and TV shows, thinking that he’s doing us a favor by adding in all the parts that he thinks were missing before. Imagine how inflamed I would be if I had even read any of Lewis Carroll’s books or even particularly liked the boring Disney version…

One more complaint…I CANNOT stand it when a film uses the “was it all a dream?” thing. Even if it is my most beloved film of all time. If I wanted that shit, I’d watch reruns of Dallas or Roseanne or Newhart.

Anne Hathaway looked like shit. Was she supposed to look like shit?

I could have done WITHOUT having to hear Avril Lavigne during the end credits. That song fucking sucks.

Okay, enough venting – I don’t have only bile and hate for Alice in Wonderland. How often do I get to see Crispin Glover and Johnny Depp in a film together? It’s been a decade and a half since Dead Man, people! Even longer since Gilbert Grape. I’ll pretty much tolerate anything with either of them in it…but BOTH at the same time? Elation!

True confessions time…I liked last year’s SyFy mini-series version (Alice) better. So, sue me – it’s heresy, blah, blah, blah….Alice’s steampunk world is what Tim Burton should have made. Either that, or gone totally Blade Runner. THAT would have gotten me excited….

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

About halfway through, I found myself wondering if they would ever stop singing, craving a cigarette madly.

I’ve never been much into Broadway Musicals, even as a self-professed Drama Fag throughout High School and College. I can pinpoint my rapid loss of interest to exactly the moment that I wasn’t cast as Rizzo in my High School’s production of ‘Grease.’ My complete lack of singing ability was as much to blame as my Amazonian height, hence I was cast in the only non-singing role as the Principal, Mrs. Whatshername. I still watch Grease every time it’s on TV, but the more singing in a Musical, the quicker I get bored. The Wizard of Oz and Grease have about the right amount of music for me – less than 50%. Both Willy Wonka and Charlie & The Chocolate Factory are borderline. Pretty much all other musicals (except, of course, Poultrygeist) annoy the shit out of me. Hold on a sec, I actually have to take some brownies to a girl scout meeting.

…Now that I’m back, I’ve got to admit that the Sweeney Todd songs are catchy. ‘Mrs. Lovett’s Meat Pies’ has been stuck in my head all morning, intermingled with “Pretty Women.” Johnny Depp, probably the most versatile actor on the planet, did an admirable singing job. While obviously not a classically trained singer, he did a good job. Not good enough to warrant an attempt at a music career, but good. Good singing is not always a good thing. Every time that Johanna sang, I wanted to stick cigarette butts in my ears to drown out the noise. I know that’s how professional singing is supposed to sound, but it doesn’t mean I want to listen to it.

Notwithstanding all the singing, it seemed more like Tim Burton was adapting a comic book or graphic novel, rather than a Broadway Musical. My husband said it reminded him of Sin City. Sweeney Todd + comic book = an imaginary lightbulb going on over my head. As much as I would have liked to block this memory, it just jumped out of my memory holder. (Props to my four year old son for coming up with a much better phrase for ‘brain.’) I spent about five years sleeping underneath a massive Sweeney Todd comic book poster at my ex’s apartment. I hadn’t thought about that poster in over a decade, but I’m seeing it now, every single detail. How many times did I stare into the eyes of Michael Zulli’s artwork, bored to tears, waiting for the assault on my nether regions to be over? How many conversations did I have with Sweeney Todd while I was under the influence? How many times did I wish that Mr. Todd could tell me how many strange women (and men) had been through there when I wasn’t around? I digress…Neil Gaiman never actually finished the comic, but if he did, it would have been very, very close to Tim Burton’s vision.

Except for all the singing and the fact that the film accidentally reminded me of sex with my ex – say it with me, “Ew!” – I enjoyed the film. Johnny Depp is always fun to watch and I am one of the few people I know that can stand Helena Bonham Carter. (Maybe because I went through a phase where I dressed and acted like Marla Singer?) Sacha Baron Cohen’s manbulge makes an appearance, as it does in every film he does. Alan Rickman was also fun to watch as a dirty sex offender – I wonder if my best friend got turned on? She’s got a serious Snape fixation. I definitely recommend Sweeney Todd as a Musical for people annoyed by Musicals, such as myself.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

I never saw Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory as a child. I was a 19 year old college student – and it definitely fucked with my head. (There’s a time and place for everything, children. It’s called college.) Consequently, I’m missing all those warm and fuzzy feelings that made so many die hard fans rabidly hate the new Tim Burton version.

I also never read the book as a child. I read it in college during a Roald Dahl kick associated with James and the Giant Peach and showing several Dahl flicks during the No Elvis Film Series (Willy Wonka and The Witches.) Again, Tim Burton isn’t trampling any warm and fuzzy memories – although he did take a shit all over my love for Planet of the Apes, which is another story entirely.

So first off – Johnny Depp always gets a pass from me…although he shouldn’t after the craptastical Ninth Gate. I stand by my assertion that he’s the most interesting actor of the last 20 years, but his portrayal of Willy Wonka isn’t very interesting. Sure, there was plenty of malevolence bubbling underneath the surface – but I just didn’t get excited by the character. Although lots of people have pointed out a resemblance between Depp’s characterization and Michael Jackson, I’m not quite buying it. White skin and a bad haircut do not a celebrity pedophile make. Basing his portrayal off of Wacko Jacko WOULD have been an interesting choice – and I think it would have made the movie more interesting, if not X rated.

I am torn by the Oompa Loompas. I liked the fractal-like computer repetitions of Deep Roy – very geometric and tidy…but there’s something so aesthetically pleasing about a couple of dwarves in green wigs and orange body paint. The heavy metal Oompa Loompas made up for the lack of green wigs…almost.

Veruca Salt was better in the 70s movie, but the rest of the kids were on par or better than their 70s counterparts. The parents were about on par with their 70s counterparts as well…except for Helena Bonham Carter. I could not stop staring at her fake teeth. But she gets bonus points for NOT SINGING. That horrid “Cheer Up, Charlie” song from the first movie is the SOUNDTRACK IN HELL. I mute the damn TV every time that song comes on.

The only thing that I absolutely did not understand about this movie was the need to add Willy Wonka’s backstory. Who gives a fuck about his “daddy issues”? I’m always ready for some Christopher Lee – but really? Was showing that Willy loves candy because his daddy was a mean dentist really necessary?

  

Sleepy Hollow

Cleavage!

I saw this when it originally came out in the theaters and I remember leaving the theater vaguely disappointed. After renting it, I still can’t put my finger on why. It was beautifully filmed, it had a decent cast and an amazing director. This is definitely a case where the individual parts are greater than the sum of the whole. Don’t get me wrong, I liked it a lot, but maybe I was expecting too much…

I just wanted to bitchslap Johnny Depp. He was such a pussy! Christina Ricci was okay, but I wanted to slap the simpering little bitch. I also wanted to slap Casper van Dien for having such a bad haircut….Maybe that’s what I didn’t like about it – I felt like slapping every single person in the whole damn thing!

I can’t decide if Lisa Marie is the most beautiful or most repulsive person I have ever seen. I wish I looked like her though.

Christopher Walken is the ugliest man in showbiz. It was resourceful to have scenes of the Headless Horseman, pre-decapitation, just to showcase Walken’s ugliness. It would be shame to waste all that ugly on a character that doesn’t even have a head!

Maybe if I watch it again, I’ll be able to figure out what was so disappointing.