Beetlejuice

beetlejuice_281988_film_poster29Year: 1988

Synopsis: A recently diseased deceased couple try and fail to scare away their home’s new owners, and call upon a freelance bio-exorcist against the advice of their afterlife caseworker.

Pros:
• Continues to be a unique supernatural comedy.
• Michael Keaton’s non-stop, manic performance as Beetlejuice chaotically drove story.
• Filled with many fascinating details to be found and enjoyed even decades later.
• The imagery was often as surreal as hilarious.
• Perhaps the most truly independent Tim Burton film.

Cons:
• Themes of death and hauntings might be difficult for some to take, given it being presented, more or less, as a family fantasy film.

Discussion:
The supernatural genre is a saturated one, but is not that hard to do right. Supernatural (2005-present) being a continuing example. The key is to unabashedly present twists to the otherwise familiar themes. Beetlejuice not only has its own twists, but also works to reinvent the genre. Its reinvention was done so well that there are few if any examples that attempted to duplicate it, not counting the TV series (1989-1991) and video games loosely based on the film. The character is fun to watch as the rebel he was, but also fascinating in how he relished in how he got away with twisting truth and rules. Beyond the eponymous character, a major strength of the film was always its many details. The suggestions that the recently deceased were having more trouble in their transition, successful hauntings hard to come by, the Maitlands not obligated to do anything besides not letting the secrets of the afterlife out, disjointed truth being an apparent rule of the afterlife. The last was perhaps always the most interesting. Even Juno, the caseworker, told the Maitlands everything about Beetlejuice. Juno was arguably the most interesting. The narrative suggested she was of equal ability to Beetlejuice, but too bound by the rules to do much other than recommend not to summon him. All that poses many questions like if anyone was really in charge or if the rules were not wholly enforceable, but that is made more a surprisingly affective punchline in its unknowable mystery. Like the bureaucracy of the afterlife, the film forever inexplicably works.


Official Website

Rotten Tomatoes — 83%

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