Beetlejuice (1988)

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Sally
I know that if I say “Beetlejuice” three times he will appear, and if I light up the bat signal Batman will appear. So the question is: can all Michael Keaton characters be summoned in some way? I only ask because I really loved him in Mr. Mom, and I would also like a wacky housekeeper type. If you have any information, please let me know. Otherwise I will have to give up my dream of having Michael Keaton in my house.

This is another movie I missed as a child and viewed for the first time in college. This would probably have been too much for me when I was four or five, but I definitely could have handled it a few years later. Beetlejuice is on par with The Addams Family scare-wise– it’s more funny than scary. Kids won’t get the more grown up jokes and themes, but there’s still plenty for them to enjoy. This has many Tim Burton hallmarks– stop motion animation, highly stylized sets, quirky characters. These effects are perfect for the offbeat plot and humor, which revolves around a recently deceased couple attempting to cope in their unexpected afterlife.

The cast is also great, though interestingly enough the title character Beetlejuice hardly appears in the movie at all. When he does he certainly steals the scene, but the real stars are Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin as the newly departed Maitlands. Davis is great, but can we stop for a moment and acknowledge what a dreamboat Baldwin was in the 80s? Just look at him in his cute glasses! Their country home is soon purchased by eccentric art world New Yorkers, who quickly try to monetize their new haunted digs while the Maitlands unsuccessfully try to haunt them out. Catherine O’Hara and Jeffery Jones excel as these crazy urbanites, and Winona Rider shines as their moody teenage daughter.

Beetlejuice also has one of the best soundtracks ever. In fact, I’m going to hop over to iTunes right now and download a ton of Harry Belafonte.

Rating: A


Ben
Classic 80s comedy. It’s got a terrific cast led by Michael Keaton as the human remover Beetlejuice. He has never been funnier; he’s an obnoxious jerk, but you still like him. Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis star as Adam and Barbara Maitland. They are a pair of recently deceased newly wed ghosts that can’t handle it when a family of uppity New Yorkers, Charles and Delia Deetz, move into their home and start renovating.

Adam and Barbara start haunting their old house, attempting to scare the new arrivals out of town. Unfortunately the living are unable to see them so any haunting they do goes unnoticed by everyone except their young goth daughter Lydia (Winona Ryder). Lydia is able to see Adam and Barbara, and becomes intrigued by the ghosts in her home and befriends them. Desperate to remove these humans, and despite warnings from other dead people, Adam and Barbara hire professional human remover Beetlejuice.

This film is at its best when Keaton is on the screen. He is great as Beetlejuice. I would like him to revisit this character again someday, as it is the best role he’s done. Director Tim Burton had planned a sequel and even had Keaton and Winona Ryder signed up to reprise their roles, but after some delays Burton and Keaton moved on to make a couple of Batman films, and Beetlejuice 2 got canned.

I really love this film, the whole cast is great. Baldwin and Davis are great as the recently deceased Maitlands. They have great chemistry together, you believe they could be married. It’s one of the few comedies Baldwin has done and he’s good in the role. After seeing his awesome role in 30 Rock, I’m surprised he doesn’t do them more. He’s really good at them. Catherine O’Hara and Jeffrey Jones are great as the Deetz’s. Both play their role as stuck up New Yorkers moving to the country so well. Jones wants to relax and O’Hara wants her old life in the big city back. Winona Ryder rounds out the cast as their daughter, Lydia. This was the first of a few roles for Ryder in Tim Burton’s films. She became something of a muse for him, before he met Johnny Depp, obviously.

This is one of the best dark comedies of the 80s. It is a really original and kooky idea with good makeup effects and a really funny cast, especially Michael Keaton.

Rating: B+

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3 thoughts on “Beetlejuice (1988)

  1. Pingback: Dark Shadows (2012) | From The Abyss to Zoolander

  2. Pingback: The Dream Team (1989) | From The Abyss to Zoolander

  3. Pingback: Mr Mom (1983) | From The Abyss to Zoolander

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