Monday, August 15, 2016

Movie Review: "Beetlejuice" (1988)

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Movie"Beetlejuice"
Director: Tim Burton
Year: 1988
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 32 minutes

When Adam (Alec Baldwin) and Barbara Maitland (Geena Davis) die in an auto accident, they are forced to spend the afterlife stuck in their house. Their home has just been purchased by a family from New York City. When the family begins to remodel, Adam and Barbara decide they want them out of their house for good. Unfortunately, they aren't very good at haunting it and seek help from a bio-exorcist named Betelgeuse (Michael Keaton), who may wind up making matters worse. 

"Beetlejuice" is the second feature length film directed by Tim Burton. It stars Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis as Adam and Barbara Maitland, a newlywed couple who have recently died in an accident. When they return to their home, they quickly realize they have subsequently become ghosts. Their afterlife gets turned upside down when a wretched family moves in and starts rearranging and remodeling everything they hold dear. These new tenants consist of Jeffery Jones, who plays Charles Deetz, Catherine O'Hara as Delia Deets, Charles' second wife, and Winona Ryder, who plays Charles' daughter Lydia Deetz. Charles and Delia are snobby, rich former city dwellers and are the polar opposites of how Barbara and Adam behaved and lived while they were alive. In an effort to get this awful family out of their (after)lives and their home for good, they have to scare them away. It does little good because Adam and Barbara just aren't scary enough. That's when they seek outside help from the titular Betelgeuse (though spelled differently for marketing purposes), played by Michael Keaton, a scare-aficionado who advertises his services on what we can only assume is ghost TV, to get the Deetz family out of their space. It just so happens that the goth, life-hating Lydia can see Adam and Barbara, and eventually comes to act as a liaison between the living and the dead. Unfortunately for the Maitland's, Betelgeuse is only using Lydia to get back to the world of the living permanently, which makes matters worse for them when it comes to their extermination problem.

This movie wouldn't be half as fantastic as it is without the incomparable Michael Keaton at the helm as Betelgeuse. Keaton portrays a character that is both likable and charming, yet crude and crass. He is a villain, but at the same time, is a hero of sorts. He's cocky, arrogant, and borderline cruel, but also seems to have a heart somewhere deep down in his ghostly body. Keaton is a great comedy actor, and this is still one of his all-time best roles. This becomes all the more apparent when we found out Keaton actually ad-libbed most of his lines. Genius! Winona Ryder plays the dower, black-clothing-clad Lydia like the role was made for her. She is also excellent in the film, as are Baldwin, Davis, Jones, and O'Hara, but if we're being honest, none of these fine actors can hold a candle to Keaton, though each plays their part to make this entire cast excel. "Beetlejuice" also serves as director Tim Burton's first feature film that is truly 'Burton-esque' as he mixes the dark, Gothic, and macabre with the colorful and whimsical in a way that has become synonymous with the man himself over the last few decades. There is a lot of spectacular makeup work in this movie, especially when it comes to the vast variety of ghosts bearing the marks of how they met their fate. This makeup is a great mix of creepy and comedic without ever feeling hokey.

Speaking of comedy, "Beetlejuice" offers up a ton of laughs as well as a fun, compelling story that is still enjoyable almost 30 years later. This film has truly stood the test of time and we still very much appreciate the work put into this picture to make the awkward and mildly horrifying, but hilarious and extremely memorable paranormal comedy we know and love come to life. You've got to see this movie once before you die!

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 8.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 81%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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