Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Edward Scissorhands (1990)

PG-13, 1 hr. 40 min.  Directed By: Tim Burton.  Release Date:  Dec 7, 1990.  DVD Release Date:  Dec 18, 2001. 

I've noticed the retro trend I've been taking of late, regressing back to movies of my childhood, like Crocodile Dundee, which has the honor of being the first movie I can remember actively quoting.  Granted, it was a single quote, but it would be more than a decade before I'd hit that point again.  It isn't on purpose, and I don't plan on continuing this "blast from the past" saga, but I know there are a few more 80s movies that I'd like to watch again on Netflix streaming, so be prepared.

I’m not really sure how Edward Scissorhands became kind of iconic for 90s teen movies.  There wasn’t anything that particularly screamed “teen” about it, except for (maybe) the presence of Johnny Depp, who only rarely seems to star in films that cater to adults.  This also seems to be one of the first partnerships between Depp and Burton, although to the best of my knowledge, Helena Bonham Carter is lurking around somewhere, so the trinity has yet to form.  This movie is clearly a Tim Burton film, possessing that... lighthearted darkness (don’t ask me how it works, it just does) that could allow me to identify Burton in a matter of seconds.

I happen to love the cast here.  Dianne Wiest, in particular, stands out for me.  She’s nearly perfection as the quirky mom who spends significant time and effort balancing out the roles that life has handed her:  mom and salesperson.  Despite all that, she manages to find time for someone that, in most small villages, would have been chased around with pitchforks and torches, and without skipping a beat.  For a little bit, I wished Dianne Wiest was my mom.  Just for a little bit.  I also liked Conchat Farrell, which isn’t new.  I like her vaguely bitchy, mostly sarcastic demeanor and as always, I wanted to see more of her.  Frankly, there isn’t a single person that I think fails at delivering a believable and fun performance, although I continue to have problems with the core concept surrounding the idea that Anthony Michael Hall could even possibly be a badass.  I’m going to blame a decade of John Hughes movies.  No, really.

The problem for me lies pretty much solely in the story.  Burton frequently leans toward the bizarre, but this combination of pocket strangeness and real world just didn’t work for me.  I found it hard to believe that a whole town of people, no matter how… small town Midwest a town it was, could just look at this dude with wet-finger-in-a-light-socket hair, wearing way too much leather, and with ginormous scissors in lieu of hands and not see something freakish.  You get glimpses of that, but pretty much what we deal with is acceptance after a brief knee jerk reaction.

I’m left a bit puzzled by the world’s reaction to this movie.  People love it, and I’m just not sure why.  I’m not a fan of Burton movies just because they’re Burton movies, but I do love more than half of his filmography, especially as we get closer to the modern day.  I just didn’t particularly love this particular Burton.  It’s got all the signature effects, but somehow the combination doesn’t work out.