>Worn Out Welcomes: Tim Burton

2 02 2011

>Have you ever been to a wedding, funeral, or Bar Mitzvah where one guest is completely unbearable?  At first you think ‘Hey this guy is kind of funny’ or ‘I love how quirky this girl is.’  Then after 10 minutes you realize that the funny guy only has one joke or the quirky girl is just unbearably weird.  The rest of the event becomes an awkward Pac-Man like dash in which you try to keep this annoyance from splitting your head in half.  Hollywood is full of these people and I have taken it upon myself to expose the one trick ponies as I see them.  This week we take a look at director Tim Burton.  Once viewed as a fresh and bold maverick Tim Burton has worn out his welcome.

The first film I saw of Burton’s was Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.  As a fan of the show I thought the movie was great.  It really expanded on Pee Wee’s world, the jokes were spot on and the dark scenes (everyone remembers Large Marge) made for a nice change of pace, causing the audience to care about Pee Wee making it back to his comfort zone of bright lights and never ending cheer.  Burton has gone on to make two good films (Beetlejuice, Big Fish) and one great film (Ed Wood).  The rest of his filmography might has been self cannibalized to the point it is tough to differentiate which film is which.
·         Batman:  This movie sucks.  In fact it sucks so much I already wrote an article about it.  Check out ‘Overrated’ for more information.
·         Edward Scissorhands:  This film kicks off Burton’s theme of ‘Everyone who follows social norms is a great big dick hole.’  Very similar to most Stephen King novels, except Burton dresses all of his protagonists like teenagers listening to The Cure.
·         Batman Returns:  Christopher Walken and Michelle Pfeiffer are awesome despite Burton’s attempt to sap all energy from Gotham City and its residents.  The fact that Tim Burton has admittedly never opened a comic book really shows as this film is gray, drab and overall adventure free.  *Fun fact:  Andrew Bryniarski, who played Max Shreck’s son Chip also played Zangief in the 1994 Street Fighter movie.*
·         Mars Attacks:  A disappointing spoof of 50’s alien invasion movies.  There are some fun performances from Pierce Brosnan and Michael J. Fox but to once again waste the talents of Jack Nicholson is unforgivable.
·         Sleepy Hollow:  This was the point where I REALLY started to sour on the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp combination.  Depp is directed to play Ichabod Crane as being dark and weird for the sake of being dark and weird.  The set designs in this movie are so uninteresting and bland I was lulled to sleep the first time I tried to watch it.  This movie reminded me so much of Batman Returns that I had to watch that one again to make sure they weren’t the same film.
·         Planet of the Apes:  Even the most die hard Burton fans have abandoned this cinematic abortion.  How Mark Wahlberg was able to survive this and The Happening is beyond me.  This abysmal remake has none of the wonder, fun, or intelligence of the classic.  Burton also manages to cripple Tim Roth, Paul Giamatti, and Helena Bonham Carter with this insipid script.
·         Charlie and the Chocolate Factory:  I really thought this would be the last collaboration between Burton and Depp.  The fact that Depp portrayed Wonka as a reclusive pedophile was bad enough.  However Burton makes it worse by not making any of the kids likable in the slightest.  None of these characters can be related to because they are so flat and one dimensional.  All of the characters in this movie are assholes except for the poor, weird outcast.  Catching onto any repeating themes yet?
·         Corpse Bride:  Corpse Bride features some great animation but this screenplay feels like a rejected script for The Nightmare Before Christmas.  This may have worked as a 20 minute short but there is no money in making shorts.  The character designs, backgrounds and score also feel like things that didn’t make the final cut of Nightmare.  Another example of Burton recycling his own work for profit.
·         Sweeney Todd:  The Demon Barber of Fleet Street:  In a shocking turn, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter are cast in a Tim Burton movie playing weird, unlikeable characters with white makeup, black clothing and bad hair.  I’m so sick of this trio I could vomit.  The only highlight of this film is that the criminally underrated Alan Rickman got to collect a pay check.
·         Alice in Wonderland:  Like in Batman and Batman Returns Tim Burton manages to suck all of the joy from Wonderland of all places.  This film commits many crimes against the Lewis Carroll classics but the most offensive one:  it’s BORING!  As I was watching this on cable I found myself flipping through my menus praying for a rerun of Jersey Shore or 16 & Pregnant.  Sadly I found none.
·         It has just come to my attention that Tim Burton is currently in pre-production for a Dark Shadows movie.  For those of you not familiar with the show Dark Shadows was a soap opera that ran from 1966-1971 featuring vampires, werewolves and other creatures of myth.  Take a guess as to who will be playing vampire Barnabas Collins.
      The biggest issue that I have with Tim Burton is that he has painted himself into this corner.  Actors often fall to typecasting when audiences are unable to believe an image change.  Directors are typecast when they take on similar projects over and over again.  Sometimes it’s great (Martin Scorsese) and sometimes it’s horrendous (Uwe Boll).  When he is willing to try a different approach the results have been quite good (Big Fish) but it hasn’t been enough.  Stop trying to make ‘Tim Burton’ films and just focus on making good films.  Your legacy will thank you for it.
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