Beetlejuice (1988) / Comedy-Fantasy
aka Beetle Juice
MPAA Rated: PG for disturbing images
Running Time: 92 min.
Cast: Michael Keaton, Geena Davis, Alec Baldwin, Catherine O'Hara, Winona Ryder, Jeffrey Jones, Robert Goulet, Dick Cavett (cameo), Susan Kellerman (cameo)
Director: Tim Burton
Screenplay: Michael McDowell, Warren Skaaren
Review published February 11, 1997
Adam (Baldwin, Working Girl) and Barbara Maitland (Davis, Quick Change) love the little home in the country they've built for themselves, but after they are killed in a freak accident and come back as ghosts, they are appalled to find that their house has been sold to a tasteless and unpleasant family, who plan one tearing down all they've built to redo the house in the tackiest way possible. Now they are determined to do what they can to scare away the family and serve out their 125 year term as apparitions before moving on to the next phase, but a wrench stops up the works when the new owners are pleased with the financial possibilities of the attraction of a haunted house, and it seems the more they scare these new inhabitants, the more amused they get. The Maitlands call on the services of Betelgeuse (aka Beetlejuice), a crazy and psychotic ghoul who seems to do more harm than good for the Maitland's tastes.
Beetlejuice is a stylishly fun film, that has some choice moments, but is not always in the most appealing fashion. Michael Keaton (Mr. Mom, Batman) is terrific as the manic lunatic Betelgeuse, and the rest of the cast also performs in fine fashion. Director Tim Burton (Pee-wee's Big Adventure, Batman Returns) does a good job giving the film an interestingly bizarre look, and Elfman's score is quite solid as well.
Alas, there are problems with the lack of solidity to the lightweight material, with an overbearing calypso score which mars the film from taking off to high gear. Beetlejuice is generally most entertaining for older kids, and probably hit-and-miss for everyone else.
©1997 Vince Leo