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Beetlejuice
1988 - PG - Mins.
Director: Tim Burton
Producer: Michael Bender, Richard Hashimoto
Written By: Warren Skaaren
Starring: Michael Keaton, Geena Davis, Alec Baldwin, Catherine O'Hara, Jeffrey Jones, Winona Ryder
Review by: John Ulmer
   
The main problem with "Beetlejuice" is that its supposed main character, Beetlejuice, or "geuse," doesn't seem to hold any relevancy to the plot. He's there, but why? He doesn't really make up the film at all. His total time on-screen is probably about thirty minutes, yet they play him up as if he is what the film is about.

The film starts off with a newlywed couple, Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis, moving into an old house in the middle of nowhere. However, their lives are cut short after they die in a car accident.

But their actual spirits are far from dead. They are attached to their house, and they cannot leave, or "sandworms" will kill them. Er, kill them more than they are killed already, I suppose. I guess Tim Burton didn't realize that dead people can't die. Anyway...

Soon, a couple (Jeffrey Jones and Catherine O'Hara) move into the home with their gothic daughter, Winona Ryder. They redecorate the home, much to the dislike of Jeffrey, and pretty much change everything about the house.

This makes ghosts Geena and Alec mad, and they want the new occupants of their home out. As Baldwin says in one scene, "Do you want to have to eat breakfast with these people for the rest of our lives?" I'm not sure if this line is meant to be funny, since they are already dead, or if it is supposed to be serious. It's hard to tell in this film that confuses the dead for the living many, many times.

So the two ghosts take a trip to the other side, where they learn from a dead counselor that they must scare the owners out of the ghosts' old home if they want them to leave.

The couple of ghosts try this haunting thing in an effort to scare the new home-owners out of THEIR home. But, unfortunately, O'Hara and Jones only find the supernatural figures living in their attic amusing and see it as a profit.

The two ghosts are left with no choice. They call upon Beetlegeuse (Michael Keaton) to help them rid the house of its unwanted occupants. Beetlegeuse is called upon by saying his name three times, a technique later to be ripped-off in "Candyman." He comes, he tries to rid the home, but in the process causes a lot of mayhem.

But here's the catch. Beetlegeuse comes in about an hour into the film, which is only some 90 minutes long. You do the math. He is not in the film nearly enough.

The beginning is quite good, but they should either have a) sped up the beginning a bit more to fit more time with Beetlegeuse in or b) made the film a half hour longer, which would probably have been a better choice. Michael Keaton is wild in his role, and entertaining. His sporadic and crazy personality is a mix between Ace Ventura and Jerry Lewis, only ten times funnier.. And I would liked to have seen him some more before the credits started rolling.

The film takes too much time setting everything up, when, in fact, it could have been set up in half the time. Beetlegeuse just doesn't get enough screen-time, and because of this, he seems like an empty character that pays nothing to the plot, even though the entire film is named after him. He comes, he scares the people twice, and then he disappears. Credits.

If you really analyze the film, you will realize that with Beetlegeuse (the character), the plot really gained nothing. He doesn't really pay anything to the plot at all. He scares the occupants once or twice (which wasn't Keaton but visual effects one of the times). This could have been done with someone else. He saves the ghosts from dying at the end. This could have been done by the dead counselor from the other side.

Of course, that wouldn't have made the film any good, but my point that is Beetlegeuse really didn't need to be in the film. The writers could easily have put existing characters in his place to do actions he performs. This is bad for a film that is named after a character who barely appears in it at all, and really pays no relevancy whatsoever.

The writers apparently wrote themselves into a corner with Beetlegeuse (the character). What does his character give to the plot? What is the relevancy? Nothing, really, as I said before. They should have skimmed on the other characters (like the dead counselor) and played up Beetlegeuse a bit. Then the film would have been a whole lot better than it is.

I suppose the sheer originality of the film makes it worth seeing, and one of the scenes involving a group of people being possessed and singing and dancing is very funny. But again, the filmmakers should have taken more time to write Beetlegeuse into the script before they started filming.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not.
  3 out of 5 stars

 
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