User ReviewsReview this title
Barbara and Adam Maitland decide to spend their vacation decorating their idyllic New England country home. Upon returning from the trip to town, however, Barbara swerves to avoid a dog wandering the roadway. The couple's vehicle crashes through a covered bridge and plunges into the river below, killing Barbara and Adam. The couple soon returns home in spirit form and quickly come to the conclusion that they are dead. A book entitled Handbook for the Recently Deceased confirms the couple's suspicion that they are, in fact, dead. Barbara and Adam's peace is soon shattered when their house is sold and the new residents arrive from New York City. Charles Deetz, aspiring sculptor and Charles' second wife Delia, and Charles' goth daughter Lydia from his first marriage, move into the home. Juno, who informs Barbara and Adam that they must remain in the house for 125 years. If they want the Deetzes out, it is up to them to scare them away. Although the Maitlands remain invisible to Charles and Delia, their daughter Lydia can see Adam and Barbara and becomes their friend. Against the advice of Juno, the Maitlands contact the miscreant Betelgeuse, a freelance "bio-exorcist", to scare away the Deetzes, but they have their hands full now with this crazy psycho.
Beetlejuice is an awesome movie, it's one of the funniest movies you'll see. I will be honest, it's a strange humor as it's a dark comedy, but it's all good. Seriously Michael Keaton is such a great comedic actor, he was the perfect choice, he brought the right amount of cockiness and comedy to the role. Also Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin had great chemistry as well as the perfect Leave it to Beaver-esquire type of couple that has a hard time accepting their world as the afterlife. Jeffrey Jones, Catherine O'Hara and Winona Ryder were perfect as the Deetzes, quite disturbing and awkward. I highly recommend this movie if you get the chance to see it, it's a great comedy classic.
The big question is - how does it stand up today? The answer is better than ever! In fact I would argue that 'Beetlejuice' is Tim Burton's most successful and least compromised film. Everything about it is perfect. A great cast lead by the very appealing and likable Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis as the newly dead Maitlands, a star turn by Michael Keaton as the gonzo "bio-exorcist" title character, and strong support from Jeffrey Jones, Catherine O'Hara, and especially Winona Ryder (a performance that really put her on the map), as the new occupants of the Maitlands house. 'Beetlejuice' juggles gruesome, trippy and genuinely witty sequences, and ends up becoming one of the freshest and surreal movies to find a mainstream audience since the heyday of 60s/70s "head" movies. Forget Burton's more recent hit and miss big budget efforts, and try this for the real deal, Luis Bunuel meets Tex Avery meets George Romero, and then some! 'Beetlejuice' is a blast!
Taking into the account that the movie was made in 1988 with limited special effects, Beetlejuice could be simply labelled as "creativity at its best".
Tim Burton is a pure visionary and with this movie you cannot help but appreciate the amount of creativity he has and his ability to translate it to screen.
Acting is top-rate from all fronts. One can't help but admire promising young Winona Ryder - a flower ready to bloom.
It would take a couple of viewings to be appreciate the movie in totality.
Several characters in here - mainly Michael Keaton's unique and sometimes- revolting title character "Beetlejuice"- are always fascinating to watch. With him - and the whole movie - you also get a lot of humor and scary special-effects..
It was odd to see Alec Baldwin in such a low-key role. In the '90s, he played very few of these type of guys. Davis looks and acts like...well, Davis, who has almost always played nice, cute people that viewers like. It took me four viewings before I finally appreciated Catharine O'Hara's comedic talents in this movie. Now, she's my favorite and someone I find absolutely hilarious as the messed-up wife/mother of a family who moves into a "haunted house" inhabited by Baldwin and Davis.
Keaton made himself a name as an actor with this whacked-out Robin Williams-type role, although he never really followed up with anything that was as popular as this film. Winona Rider is cute as the teenage daughter and we get other fun supporting roles from diverse people as talk show host Dick Cavett, singer Robert Goulet and actor Jeffrey Jones. All of them are good.
Tim Burton directed the film and so I wasn't surprised there were the typical occult themes with ghosts and the like, and no heaven or hell but some other strange existence being touted where dead people go....a ridiculous picture of the afterlife. However, I just chalk it up to someone just trying to make a fun, entertaining picture and on that, it succeeds.
Overall, a unique and entertaining film. It's different, to say the least!
I revisited this film for a specific project. IMDB comment-writing has given me an excuse to resee and think about what films were important (or good in some way) and why. Now after almost two years, I'm developing a list of filmmakers and a few actors worth following. Should Tim Burton be on the list?
Tim has at least one rare quality of an effective filmmaker: he has the ability to shape some critical mass of the elements of his work to adhere to a coherent vision. A Burton film is pretty recognizable. But have any of his films struck me in a particularly strong way? Have any been life-altering (some by others have) or even remembered particularly fondly? The strongest candidate was this one. It is also of passing interest for Geena and Winona history.
There are only two things in this film to recommend it: Keaton's slapstick performance. But his three or four frenetic appearances alone are not enough to justify sitting front of the screen. The other element is remarkable: Efman's score. Our old Boingo man I think has literally helped Burton define himself, so the sonic texture here is more than perfect.
Burton does not go on my list of greats. But I think I'll start a list of film score composers.
A remark on the architecture. I have a special interest in how films handle space, and a part of that is the architecture. What Otho supposedly did to the outside of the house is pretty good actually, very apt for the notion of the film itself: what you see is some distance removed from reality.
But that's not saying much, since I despise Tim Burton. In fact, I didn't actually *know* this was a Tim Burton film, and when I popped it in my DVD player and saw his name on the opening credits, I nearly threw up a little into my mouth. I seriously considered turning the thing off right then and there, because I had already vowed never to see another Burton film.
But I'd heard a lot of good things about this movie, so I decided to give it a chance.
And in truth, I'm kind of glad I did, because it wasn't too bad. The premise was interesting and original. It was certainly a *different* take on the afterlife, and it definitely had me at times thinking "What would I do in this situation?" Which is a good thing. I liked the protagonist couple and was rooting for them. Also a good thing.
But in typical Burton fashion, it ends up trading coherence for oddity. This occurs as soon as the title character comes in. Betelgeuse the character makes no sense. His motivations, his situation, what it exactly *means* to say his name three times, none of this ever really makes sense in any coherent, consistent way. And Burton obviously doesn't care. He just wants to make things weird and over-the-top. So in the end, the plot really degrades into making no sense and going nowhere. How exactly is Betelgeuse apparently trapped in the model? No explanation offered. Why do the ghosts suddenly turn all old and dried up during the séance? No reason offered. It just makes things weird and over the top. What would have happened if the good guys *had* managed to say his name thrice during the wedding scene? No clue, Burton can't be bothered to think through his premise in any consistent way.
The result is a flashy, busy, climax, full of sound and fury and signifying NOTHING. In a movie where the whole plot was set up to be about a ghost couple trying to drive the living out of their house, the climax ends up being about stopping this *other* ghost from marrying one of the living. The plot has Officially Gone Nowhere.
And it's a shame, really, because this started out being a pretty good movie, and really could've been much, much better than it was. Step one would've been entirely removing Betelgeuse from Beetlejuice.
Jeez, they couldn't even manage to spell the title correctly.
The central characters, Adam and Barbara Maitland, are a nice-but-wet young couple, who live just outside an idyllic small New England town in one of those huge, rambling weather boarded mansions that looks as though it has been taken straight from an Edward Hopper painting. After they are killed in a road accident, they return to their house as ghosts. The view of life after death in this film is an unusual one, which has little in common with Christian eschatology or with traditional ghost stories. The dead are compelled to return to the house where they lived during their lifetimes; if they attempt to go outside they find themselves in a desert landscape populated by monstrous worms. (This imagery was presumably derived from Frank Herbert's science-fiction novel 'Dune' and the film that was made from it a few years before 'Beetlejuice'). They can, however, contact other departed spirits who can help them cope with the trials of the afterlife by, for example, leaving them a copy of the 'Handbook for the Recently Deceased'.
The Maitlands' main trial takes the form of Charles and Delia Deitz, the pretentious yuppie couple who buy their house. Irritated beyond endurance by this tasteless pair, the Maitlands, attempt to scare them away, but their efforts prove ineffectual because the only member of the family who can see them is their daughter Lydia who, far from being frightened by Adam and Barbara, takes a liking to them and befriends them.
Like another reviewer, I was struck by the thematic similarity to Oscar Wilde's 'The Canterville Ghost', which deals with the attempts of a ghost to frighten away an American family living in his ancestral home. (In that story too the only person to befriend the ghost is the young daughter of the newcomers). Wilde's story, although it has moments of pathos, is also a satire directed against both the traditionalism and snobbery of the British aristocracy (represented by the ghost) and the materialism and brashness of the American nouveaux-riches. 'Beetlejuice' also contains some satirical material, chiefly at the expense of the pretentiously bohemian Deitzes, who redecorate the Maitlands' house in a garish modernistic style and fill it with Delia's abstract sculptures. (It is never explained why a couple with such radically contemporary tastes would actually want to buy a Victorian mansion in the first place). Modern art, however, is a notoriously difficult subject to satirize, largely because it is impossible for the satirist to come up with a concept which is more extreme and exaggerated than the artists' own ideas. Delia's sculptures might look like pretentious tat, but one can see aesthetically similar items in established museums or in galleries bearing price-tags marked in thousands of pounds. Lydia, a follower of the then-fashionable 'Goth' cult, claims that she can see ghosts because she is 'strange and unusual'. The film loses the chance to make the point that the Goth movement, like most teenage cults from the Teddy Boys to grunge, was not so much strange and unusual as an alternative way to be conformist.
Satire, however, is largely abandoned when the title character enters. Despairing of their own ability to scare away the intruders, the Maitlands engage the services of Betelgeuse, a 'bio-exorcist' who specializes in helping ghosts rid their properties of the unwanted living. (Although the film is called 'Beetlejuice' the name of the character is spelt 'Betelgeuse'; I can only presume that the producers wanted to change the spelling to something more user-friendly and failed to realize that we actually see the name written down several times in the film).
From this point on the film becomes an ever-more frantic slapstick comedy as Betelgeuse makes increasingly manic attempts to get rid of the Deitzes. Betelgeuse is played (in bizarre makeup) by Michael Keaton, in one of the most frenetic, over-the-top pieces of acting in the modern cinema. (Even some of Jim Carrey's efforts look restrained by comparison). The other characters fade into the background, and any attempt at a plot degenerates into a series of stunts and gimmicky special effects. The film certainly shows evidence of Tim Burton's vivid visual imagination, but he seems unable bring any discipline to his talents. 'Beetlejuice' is an inventive but disappointing film, even when viewed as a pure comedy, and lacking the wisdom and philosophical insight that Burton was able to bring to 'Edward Scissorhands' or 'Big Fish'. 4/10
They played Harry Belafonte's 'Jump in the Line (Shake, Senora)' at my work's Xmas 'do' this year, which made me realise that it's been a whopping 25 years since I last saw Beetlejuice (as well as making me painfully aware that dancing the conga when sober isn't anywhere near as much fun as it is while plastered—next year, I drink!). Sadly, a quarter of a century later, the film isn't anywhere near as much fun as I remembered it to be
There are plenty of creative ideas and director Tim Burton's morbid style is much in evidence, but the film as a whole proves to be far less than the sum of its parts—a series of quirky, macabre, but not very funny gags with little in the way of a decent story to tie it all together. Keaton is also rather irritating as the 'ghost with the most'; thankfully he gets precious little screen-time (despite the film being named after his character), but Winona Ryder, an actress that I simply cannot abide, is sadly present throughout.
With a story as zany and morbidly themed as this, Tim Burton was the only logical choice, naturally the man for the job. This film also brought us one of many wonderful collaborations with the musical genius Danny Elfman. A side to Michael Keaton that I had never seen before was revealed through his character, it added a new depth to his skill in acting. While I did enjoy the overall idea of the strange and unusual film, it was far from perfect. The makeup was exquisite which it deservingly won an Academy Award for, but some of the other effects looked straight out of fake looking theme park attraction. It had the meticulously detailed diorama and the up close version that was even more fascinating when they switch over to that world, yet they also had ridiculously cheesy characters that brought the overall appearance down. I thoroughly enjoy stop motion animation but it's presence in much of the film seemed out of place and unnecessary.
To be honest, I am surprised that this film is so popular. It seems like a film that would appeal to very few, yet it draws people in. This movie made it on the American Film Institute's list of 100 Greatest Comedies. While I did find some parts amusing, a lot of the humor was really corny. The singing scenes were simply awful and I found Beetlejuice more offensive and annoying than comedic. The story also seemed to not be very focused. We had about seven main characters and no sense of direction. While I did love some aspects of it, I found more of it to just be disappointing.
The first feature of Tim Burton is a delightful comedy, where he introduces a calling card of his dark style with nice characters in a very funny story, great makeup and special effects and a stunning and hilarious performance of Michael Keaton. The annoying music of Danny Elfman is the only negative point of this highly recommended movie. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "Os Fantasmas se Divertem" ("The Ghosts Have Fun")
At a much younger age I had the privilege of watching Tim Burtons 'Beetlejuice' and was taken aback by this wonderment of fiction versus reality. Ghosts, ghouls, a freaky child, a scary woman and a clown-like rogue who everyone can't help but love - Beetlejuice. Sounds like the perfect recipe for a good comedy, well not if you're over the age of ten.
Beetlejuice - revisited was a disappointment. I was alarmed at the wooden performance given by Alec Baldwin as Adam, a man who is recently deceased and has to face life as an immortal along with his wife Barbara - Geena Davis. Now I do understand that it is a family comedy and brilliant acting is not essential but I was alarmed that he actually agreed to star in this film.
The story is pretty straight forward. Adam and Barbara become the undead, and a new, obnoxious family move into their home. Adam and Barbara still live there, but as they are dead they cannot be seen, except by the family's goth-like daughter Lydia (Winona Ryder.) The couple take a liking to Lydia and she begins to help the couple in their distress. They are unable to come to terms with their new selves and are drawn into dealings with the great 'Beetlejuice,' a helper of the recently deceased. However, as time passes Beetlejuice's antics as a troublesome rogue become too much for everyone.
Overall it is a good film for children, it has the impish comedy seen in films like 'Home Alone,' and it would most definitely occupy a younger viewer. An advantage is that it stars Michael Keaton as the indelible 'Beetlejuice' and his performance is worthy of a look., as always.
I find myself watching Beetlejuice every now and then when it comes on, but have noticed that I always turn it off half-way through. The opening of this movie, with Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis as the daffy and clueless Maitlands, then the fun advent of Catherine O'Hara as the ditzy artist without a clue and Jeffrey Jones as her suffering and pretentious husband is an absolute riot. As the Maitlands try to run these flakes out of their home we get a thoroughly wacky view of the afterlife. I must admit I'm not that thrilled with the stereotypically Goth character in Winona Ryder (she is capable of much better). But, this stuff is darn fun. The scenes in the afterlife office are particularly fun.
Then Michael Keaton positively steals the show. And, he should be arrested for it. Keaton plays "the ghost with the most", an obvious stand-up act that takes over the remainder of the movie. Any possibilities for interesting scenes are robbed by an endless tirade of "I'm gross" jokes. He's not that bad at it, but it's BORING. You rapidly get fatigued and tune it out. It's like they decided to take several strong actors and turn them all into props. It ruins the entire second half of the movie.
Dinner scene with the Day Oh song one of the all time great scenes. You have to be dead to not laugh out loud.
Absolutely great casting. The top 4-5 stars in the movie were perfect in their roles. Catherine O'Hara, Michael Keaton, et al were perfect in their roles.
Special effects, especially the close up of the fly early in the movie were incredible.
Overall definitely a five star movie.