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Corpse Bride
2005 - PG - 76 Mins.
Director: Tim Burton, Mike Johnson
Producer: Tim Burton
Written By: John August, Pamela Pettler, Caroline Thompson
Starring: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Emily Watson, Richard E. Grant
Review by: Marc Eastman
Official Site:
It’s hard to put my finger on exactly where “Corpse Bride” goes wrong, and perhaps that’s part of the problem. Pick any part of the formula, and it’s hard to be disappointed. Welcome to Tim Burton’s new theory of film. Once a new hope in the movie world, creating dark, odd films that broke with convention and rejecting cookie-cutter screenplays, Burton has lately decided that dark or odd works just fine. Dark and odd together are gold.

“Corpse Bride,” animated in the style of “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” is the story of Victor Van Dort (Johnny Depp) and his two marriages. Victor is about to be the victim of an arranged marriage to Victoria Everglot (Emily Watson). The Everglots are old money, but are out of it. The Van Dorts are new money, and want the societal inroad Lord Everglot and his family can offer. Victor and Victoria are both sheltered, clumsy misfits, and they naturally fall for each other immediately... sort of. Unfortunately, Victor is clumsy to a degree even greater than absolutely required of his caricature, and while trying to learn his wedding vows he accidentally places a ring on a skeleton. Said skeleton, Emily (Helena Bonham Carter), promptly comes to life, declares Victor is her husband, and hilarity ensues – only it doesn’t.

Before we’re quite sure what we’re doing (or why we care), Victor finds himself in the midst of a musical number meant to explain the meaningless scenario which has culminated in his trip to the land of the dead. Now the story bounces along from one excuse for skeletal amusement to the next, and interesting, relevant plot steps are not the sort of things that are going to get in the way. At one point a Lord Barkis, somewhat notable for Richard E. Grant’s voice work, will enter the picture, and you will at once know the exact development of the entire film. Actually, the film’s simplicity is so overwhelming that you cannot help but soon wonder if it is meant for an even younger audience than its PG rating (and dancing eyeballs) would warrant.

The film certainly has its moments, and like “Nightmare” is worth something just for the amazing animation. Unlike the Burton predecessor however, “Corpse Bride” offers not even a spark of real imagination, nor even the hook of amusing, somewhat clever characters. Danny Elfman’s score is less interesting than normal, but of a jaunty caliber that plays well with the comically macabre dance. The songs, on the other hand, are throwaways. The saving grace, I suppose, is that the 76 minute runtime hardly ruins your entire evening – though you might want to avoid operating heavy machinery afterwards.

Movie Guru Rating
Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better. Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better.
  2 out of 5 stars

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