December 18, 2009
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What makes a good comedy? Well for starters a good comedy triggers laughs. For example, some idiot bumbling from one situation to the next just cracks me up or a bunch of jokers tearing up a frat house. What is not funny would be movies like “Meet the Spartans”, or “Epic Movie”. The problem with those movies is that Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer making redundant references to celebrities that barely get a chuckle out of me.
One comedy that triggers huge laughs every time I see it is the 1988 horror comedy “Beetlejuice”.
The plot involves Adam and Barbara Maitland, a young couple, who die in a car accident. Once they are dead, a family of New York yuppies moves into their house. Desperate to scare them away, they discover a mysterious handbook with an advertisement for a “bio-exorcist” named Beetlejuice. But their caseworker in the afterlife tries to warn them that Beetlejuice is no more that a nasty pervert. The Maitlands ignore their caseworker and seek Beetlejuice and realize that they cannot trust him. Could the Maitlands prevent themselves from falling victim to Beetlejuice’s pranks or would they have to find a way to scare off the yuppies themselves.

Once again, what makes a great comedy? A black comedy needs a wisecracking corpse or a guy whose pants fall down while trying to hang himself. For an anarchic comedy show a masochistic knight allowing himself to be chopped to bits and not feeling a thing or flatten somebody’s cranium with a piano. For a spoof pick, a scene from any movie and dump in a cauldron of sight gags. Do not make redundant allusions to Paris Hilton that grow tedious after an hour and a half. Look Friedberg and Seltzer, do not show us hand-me-down gags that we have already seen thousands of times before.
If you are a big fan of movies like “Gremlins”, or “Looney Tunes”, then check out “Beetlejuice”. The first seven minutes may be talky filler, but once the Maitlands discover that they are dead, the movie really begins. The visual depiction of the afterlife is great. The afterlife is depicted as an eternal waiting room where the recent dead rot while waiting for a decision on their fate. Another aspect of this movie is the soundtrack. It uses Harry Belafonte’s signature songs in the most surreal ways possible. When the yuppies and their friends sit down to eat dinner, the ghosts; force them to lip-synch to “Day-O”. The “Day-O” scene is a perfect example of resurrecting a song’s popularity in the same way that “Wayne’s World” used “Bohemian Rhapsody” and how “Reservoir Dogs” used “Stuck in the Middle with You”.
What makes this movie glitter like gold is the character of Beetlejuice. He is an interesting blend of comic relief and antagonist. What makes this character an A+ a**hole is his personality. For starters he poses a “bio-exorcist” only to get money, he is not trustworthy, and he cures profusely. He loves to play nasty pranks, and cares very little about the victims he harms. But we as an audience could not help but laugh at his antics and his one-liners. The humor is great because it mirrors classic cartoons especially Looney Tunes. Beetlejuice’s head spins around constantly, his head shrinks, and he takes numerous pratfalls.
This movie has everything; Looney Tunes-style humor, bizarre use of calypso, and Salvador Dali-esque art direction. If you are a big fan of comedy or if want to be entertained, than this is for you.

My Rating: 4 ½ stars out of five

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zman1 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 8, 2010 at 11:42 am
More reviews are coming soon.
TheGothicGunslinger This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jan. 24, 2010 at 4:21 pm
Liked the review, man. While I personally don't hold Beetlejuice in as high regard as you, I'll give you credit in that this review was well-written. *thumbs up*
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