Beetlejuice; or Careful, That’s Already Once…


Hello and Hallo-welcome to another edition of Family Friendly Friday, where the films are meant to be enjoyed with your little boyles and ghouls! You join your reviewers, Andy and Lilly, as they leaf through the pages of their handbook and try and make sense of this whole afterlife gig.

Today’s Film Offering: Beetlejuice (That’s twice!)

Lilly: Tim Burton is at his most Burton-y in this 1988 cult classic telling the story of a couple (played by young, hot Alec Baldwin and young, hot Geena Davis) who just want to haunt their house in peace when a family from New York shows up to ruin their afterlives.

Andy: Not to mention trash their house.

Lilly: Enter the titular ghost with the most, who wants to help by using his skills as a ‘bio exorcist’ to scare off the Deetz family (including young, hot Winona Ryder–we all had a crush on her back then, get over it). The film features some stop motion monsters that would later show to be a Burton thing in films like A Nightmare Before Christmas, and it had such excellent and creative character designs that it won an Academy Award for best makeup. It was such a hit, it spurned a cartoon that ran in the early nineties (and captured the attention of one little goth girl at the very least, hello), and there was talks of a sequel. Which never happened. Oh well.

A film that is actually a watered down version of the original script, what we have here is a PG film that features a teenage girl being forced to marry a demon, loads of perverted gropes and grabs, and the allusion to conception problems within the first ten minutes. Then there is the topic of suicide and the afterlife, and well, you definitely got yourself some interesting conversations to have with your kids after viewing if you haven’t yet approached all that. Coming from the angle of this being a family movie night choice, well–depending on how old your kids are, there is a lot to unpack. I actually don’t remember seeing this film for the first time as a kid, but by the time I did, I had seen the cartoon, so it was almost like something I liked was made more adult, and what kid doesn’t like that?

As an adult, though, there is something very appealing about this film. From the joke that those who commit suicide become civil servants in the afterlife to the actual depiction of the offices and existence of those who pass over, I just eat it all up with a spoon. It’s fun, it’s quirky, and it’s imaginative. Right down the Handbook for the Recently Deceased reading like a manual for a VCR–it’s the little thoughts and details that went into the creation of the world that really speak to me. Of course, if it isn’t already clear, I’m a lifelong fan of all this, so maybe my bias is showing. No maybe, actually. It is.

Andy: Hm. I’ve been keeping quiet so far because this is a film Lilly likes a lot more than I do, and I’ve never been able to unpack the reasons why. It’s good, and you should watch it for all the reasons Lilly said. I guess my problem is less with the movie, and more with Tim Burton.

Lilly: Whaaaaaaaaat.

Andy: He has a reputation as a dark director, but all of his movies are almost all gaudily colourful or monochrome (in the case of half of Corpse Bride and Frankenweenie). I don’t think I know of another director that has shown such a limited range in his catalogue.

So I guess I don’t dislike Beetl


Andy: …The film that won’t be named again, but I dislike the fact that Tim Burton has been essentially making the same film again and again and again since 1988. The only thing this one lacks is Johnny Depp. Having said that, it is fun. And I really, really like the depiction of the afterlife as a relentless bureaucracy.

Lilly: Now that Andy’s tossed himself to the wolves that are Tim Burton’s fans…As far as the family friendly aspect of this film goes, it’s really up to you, but as someone who has loved this film since she was a tiny, likely age-inappropriate viewer, I say go, watch, and enjoy!


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