Starring: Geena Davis, Alec Baldwin, Michael Keaton
Director: Tim Burton
Released: March 30, 1988
MPAA Rating: PG
My wife is among the world’s biggest Tim Burton fans, and this of course, is one of her favorite movies. Growing up I recall loving it too.
It’s strange looking back now how little actual screen time Michael Keaton gets in the title role here, but it’s telling how much that he manages to do with said screen time. Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin carry the bulk of the movie, playing a newlywed couple that is killed in a freak car caused by them swerving to avoid hitting a cute little puppy.
That’s only where their problems begin though, as they find upon entering the afterlife that there’s a really long waiting line to get inside the pearly gates—and so they must wait it out for the next half century in their old rural house while heaven sifts through its bureaucratic BS. They discover, to their horror that their house has been sold to a group of pretentious yuppies (Catherine O’Hara and Jeffrey Jones).
So now they must set about scaring said yuppies off, a process complicated by said yuppies proto-goth teenage daughter played by Winona Ryder, who the couple takes a liking to. Into all of this enters Beetlejuice, who offers his services as a one-man supernatural pest control agency.
Keaton’s Beetlejuice reminded me a lot of Heath Ledger’s ‘Joker,’ although with more “hamming it up” than would have been appropriate in the latter character’s film. Beetlejuice is manic fast-talking hustler trapped in a micro-world, and he can only be released if he can convince some unwitting idiot to say his name three times. Even though his screen time amounts to less than 15 minutes of the actual movie, he is one of the most quotable figures in recent history.
I’ve heard rumors of a sequel coming soon. This news both worries and intrigues me.