Thats right, in just a few simple minutes, you too can hate Tim Burton! "But no, " you might say. "Tim Burton is an eccentric, grimly humorous genius who's taken black and white stripes to the heights of cinematic excellence!". Well, as "Nightmare Before Christmas" and "Beetlejuice" are high on my list of favorite films, I used to think that as well. And then I saw "Sweeney Todd" and after fifteen minutes I hated Tim Burton. Granted, Burton's been making some klunkers, but they never really offended me too deeply. "Sleepy Hollow" was vaguely amusing but nothing special, "Corpse Bride" was a visual delight but defeated itself in its own storytelling, and the completely unwarranted remakes of "Planet of the Apes" and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" just confused me. But Sweeney...oh..... *SWEENEY*. This is personal.
Musicals are like playing Russian Roulette with entertainment. They can be the joyful and wonderful and top-tappingly brilliant, but if you're unlucky in the spin, they will make you want to blow your brains out. Most modern-day musicals make me want to blow my brains out. But "Sweeney Todd" was an shining exception. I was mildly obsessed with it in the few weeks after I discovered it- listening to the CD over and over. I fantasized that someday I would make an animated version of it. It is, at its core, a comedy. But it is a dark, twisted, grotesque comedy. The conceit of a barber murdering his customers and then baking them into pies is ludicrous and horrible..and funny! ...And horrible. But still funny! Slap some hauntingly lovely and devilishly funny songs on top and ya got "Sweeney Todd".
Now imagine all the humor sucked out of it. Then stick in some Tim Burton pets like, oh...say... Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter who apparently have never *seen* a musical let alone perform one. Make sure they don't show any emotions other than consternation or boredom. Don't time any action or edits to the rhythm of the music. Make sure Carter's inflate-a-boob cleavage is in every shot. Add some absurdly gorey blood spatter. Oh, and black and white stripes. Gotta have the stripes. After you mish-mash all this together, you're left with a boring, dreary, predictable, dischordant, heartless waste of two hours and ten dollars. The story of Sweeney Todd is wickedly entertaining, but if this movie is your introduction to it, it'll leave a worse taste in your mouth than Mrs. Lovett's meat pies.
I urge you and everyone on your street to rent the filmed stage production of "Sweeney Todd" with Angela Lansbury. Without the use of elaborate sets or scenery or digital fudgery, that filmed stage play has ten times the believability and skin-crawling fun than this insulting film. The performances are powerful, and Lansbury is so delightful you almost forgive her cannibalism. Rent it if only to compare the "Have A Little Priest" number. In the musical, this song is exuberant and riotously funny. In the movie, Depp and Carter successfully dodge every emotional cue and garble their enunciation so that only the audience members who happen to have memorized the libretto could understand the lyrics. RAWR! I'm mad.
/end rant...until I see another Gawful movie.