With August upon us, we are in the full swing of the summer vacation season. People fortunate enough to have a home in a desirable tourist destination often develop strategies for dealing with visitors who either overstay their welcome or show up uninvited. 1988's "Beetlejuice" riffs on this theme in a hilarious film that, like yesterday's review, "Ghost," depicts the confusion that can be wrought by having ghosts walk on earth amongst their living friends and enemies.
In "Beetlejuice," Adam Maitland (played by Alec Baldwin) and his wife, Barbara (played by Geena Davis), are a young couple who die when their car falls into a river. They return to their country home and soon learn that they are dead. Shortly after this, a rather obnoxious family purchases and moves into their beloved house. In this family is brooding teenager Lydia Deetz (played by Winona Ryder), her father, Charles (played by Jeffrey Jones), and step-mom, Delia (played by Catherine O'Hara). They cannot see the Maitlands, who want the Deetz's to leave so they can have their home back. Although they are advised not to, they turn to the crude Beetlejuice (played by Michael Keaton), a "bio-exorcist," to scare the Deetz's away.
"Beetlejuice" is one of the first films directed by now famed director Tim Burton. As he does with his other movies, he makes this film look surreal and unlike anything else in contemporary cinema. This look works quite well for the plot. Some scenes are set in Adam's model of the town. These scenes are fun as they show humans being shrunk down so they can talk to Beetlejuice.
The movie has an impressive cast. Michael Keaton gives a great performance. He is very over-the-top, and we see that he is a complete and unashamed creep. Winona Ryder is equally good as the neglected teen Lydia, a Goth kid who finds she can communicate with the Maitlands. They become friends.
"Beetlejuice" is a great choice for Tim Burton fans and anyone who has ever had unwanted guests.