Tim Burton is known for his surreal and somewhat bizarre movies and characters but for this effort he really cranked it up a notch. More importantly it pays off! Beetlejuice follows happily married couple Adam (Alec Baldwin) and Barbara (Geena Davis) in their afterlife. With the majority of the runtime devoted to the couple’s efforts in scaring the new family away from their home.
It is a very simple premise that works wonders under Tim Burton’s eye, providing a setting perfect for his direction. The couple go out one day to grab some parts for the model town Adam is building in his basement. Unfortunately on the way home a dog walks in front of their car causing them to crash. While Adam and Barbara return home seemingly unharmed, they don’t remember much of what happened – though it doesn’t take them long to figure out they’re actually dead. Insert a new family headed by artist Deilia (Catherine O’Hara) who they don’t want to share their home instead embarking on a mission to scare them away.
Michael Keaton steals the show with titular character Beetlejuice who is largely an extra in this ensemble only appearing on-screen for around 15 minutes of the films runtime. That doesn’t stop him being the star of the show though as his presence on screen is right on point and showcases his acting talent. Beetlejuice is a bio-exorcist who Adam & Barabara call for help in removing Deilia and her family from the house. Little do they know Beetlejuice has other ideas…
Instead of focusing on Beetlejuice though Burton focuses on the tragic couple and their exploits to catapult the film forward through a series of very creative set pieces and interludes. The script itself really isn’t about anything in particular but fortunately Burton, along with composer Danny Elfman and production designer Bo Welch have created an almost fun house feel that helps to carry the script.
While there are obvious lows in the narrative there is a consistent inclusion of memorable scenes, such as the infamous Day-O musical number, an unholy wedding and going to Saturn that the lulls are almost forgettable. Keaton is an obvious highlight (and possibly under-used) and the supporting cast boasts a collectively strong work (other appearances include Jeffrey Jones, Sylvia Sidney and Winona Ryder). The result is an over the top comedy that is downright silly and pleasing to the eye.
There isn’t much else to say about Beetlejuice other than it is one of Burton’s most iconic movies and with good reason. Beetlejuice has garnered a large cult following since release and this is helped by its comedy and fun movie spirit. Beetlejuice is certainly one to check out for those who havent seen it and for fans the rumours of Beetlejuice 2 keep making an appearance time after time maybe one day it will make it out into the wild.