Corpse Bride - 3 out of 5
When this movie came out in 2005, I passed it up because I'm not the biggest fan of Tim Burton. There was a time that I was genuinely impressed with his work. I loved The Nightmare Before Christmas before it became a staple of angry suburban kids looking for an outlook to rebel with and finding it in the form of Hot Topic. The first two Batman films were amazing. Edward Scissorhands was haunting and beautiful and Beetlejuice will remain one of the funniest movies I have ever seen. But suddenly a time came--like all creative directors and film sculptures--when Burton decided to sit on his hands and ride his name to mediocrity. In my opinion, he briefly took a rest from this downward slope to create Big Fish but for the most part, he just sat back and barely churned out what could be classified as entertainment. That time came around about the moment he remade the classic Planet of the Apes. Watching that abomination with Marky Mark made me fall to my knees in the theater and scream, "You maniacs!!! You blew it up!"
Ah yes, the nervous smile of someone watching a Tim Burton film.
Around this time, Burton decided that his wife needed to be in every movie he made. While I appreciate the love he holds for this individual but for the most part, this over-acting scenery chewer hinders his films more than helps them. Of course I am speaking of Johnny Depp. I'm not a fan of Depp--he's great as Captain Jack Sparrow but his overacting and his belief that he is British (Google it, he has an accent now somehow) gets to be overwhelming and takes away from other aspects of the film like character, story and plot. Hell, I had to turn off Alice in Wonderland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory because of Depp's inability to bring it down a few notes. Then, to make matters worse, Burton will put in the other love of his life in his movies; Helena Bonham Carter--the woman who sees Johnny Depp's overacting and decides to go all in. So, I guess the one true highlight to Corpse Bride is that fact that both these hams are only heard and not seen.
*Fill in cliche joke about how this is the look every man has on his wedding day here*
Corpse Bride, at its heart, feels like Burton just took aspects from The Nightmare Before Christmas that was left on the cutting room floor or forgotten in pre-production and decided to make a barely feature length film out of it (the movie barely makes it pass an hour). If you're reading this, you probably already know the story but I'll tell you it anyway. In merry old England, a nervous, pale and emaciated looking man who seems to be Goth before Goth was Goth is forced to marry and equally pale lady but for the life of him, he can't quite get his vows right. So, he does what any of us would and goes out to practice them in the middle of the woods, in the dead of night. While trying to get to Carnegie Hall (he was practicing, get it?) he places the wedding ring on the skeletal hand of a murdered woman and the corpse very rapidly answers yes to the proposal like she was just asked by a drunk man and wanted to get her affirmative in before the man sees her apartment full of cats. Now our pale friend is pulled into the world of the dead and needs to return to the woman he originally agreed to marry--the one with a heartbeat. There's more to the story but, for the most part, the film is about a guy forcefully married to a dead bride--this is as close to necrophilia as a G-rated film will ever get and I think the world is better for that.
This worm wears lipstick and that means this worm is FABULOUS!
The film neither blew me away or completely bored me. Like most Burton films as of late, it was just passable. All the Burton cliches are there. Everything from the familiar set designs, to the overly familiar dark tones and the same soundtrack that Danny Elfman has been using his entire career is playing in the background. The only aspect of the movie that really impressed me was Elfman jumping out of his comfort zone and making some catchy tunes that intermingle and help move the story along. Some of these songs are vaguely reminiscent of Oingo Boingo and the songs he wrote for the entertain trainwreck of a film made by his brother; Forbidden Zone. If you've never seen that movie, I highly suggest you track it down because it will give you the sensation that you are stoned out of your head as well as make you feel like you are going to throw up over the amazingly bad production and absurdity of it all--few films can give you that feeling.
Elfman does the voice of this skeleton and if he keeps doing voice acting the way he creates music, he'll be doing this skeleton's voice his entire career.
At the end of it all Corpse Bride was just another weak attempt at revisiting Burton's past glory a.k.a. a typical Burton film. The film isn't really memorable. It's characters lack any real depth and are mostly identified by the way they look and not how they act--this isn't helped by Depp's and Carter's weak voice acting skills either. Sure there's some great musical numbers that make the hour and 17 minute movie somewhat worth it but these scenes end up causing an already short film to move even faster. Add that to the fact that the story isn't feathered out the way it should be and is wrapped up way, wayyyyy too quickly, you end up having yourself a movie that is okay to check out. Is it worth getting up, going to the library or video store to rent? Absolutely not, in my opinion. In fact, I don't even think it's worth taking up space on your Netflix queue. But if you find it on TV or it's available on Netflix's instant queue and you're bored and going outside for some exercise seems the equivalent of death, give it a look. It could be worse...you could be watching Depp in The Tourist.