Beetlejuice (1988) - 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition

Genre(s): Comedy / Fantasy
Warner Brothers || PG - 92 minutes - $19.98 || September 16, 2008
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2008-09-23


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Tim Burton
Writer(s): Michael McDowell & Larry Wilson (story), Michael McDowell and Warren Skaaren (screenplay)
Cast: Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Jeffrey Jones, Catherine O'Hara, Winona Ryder, Michael Keaton


Theatrical Release Date: March 30, 1988


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • 3 Episodes from Animated TV Series
  • Music-Only Audio Track
  • Theatrical Trailer


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (1.78)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Mono), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

The 80s were chock full of classics like Predator, Commando, Batman... and Beetle Juice. I know I won’t make many friends by saying this, but I actually think it’s a bit overrated and this is coming from somebody who remembers enjoying it a decade or so ago. But over the 10+ years since I last watched this movie, it has not held up very well for me. I still liked it, overall, but I don’t feel it is one of the quintessential 1980s movies either.

The story is simple: Married couple Adam (Baldwin) and Barbara (Davis) have a beautiful house and living the great and quant life in a small Connecticut town. On the way back from town to pick up a few things, their car narrowly misses a well placed dog and goes over a bridge into the water below. They somehow return home only to realize they’re actually dead! And to make matters somehow worse, their home has been sold to an odd family from New York City. The mother (O’Hara) has a strange taste in decorating; father (Jones) is a businessman; and the daughter (Ryder) is a bit gothic, though she can see the ghosts.

After dealing with the whole dead part, Adam and Barbara work on trying to rid this family from their home, but find the task difficult, especially after scaring the crap out of them, they only want to stay all the more (and make the home into a ghost museum of sorts). They turn to a bio-exorcist named Beetlejuice (Keaton) for help, but he has his own unique and nonsensical plans.

What was most striking about Beetle Juice wasn’t how 80s it looked with the style, albeit Burton’s unique style or the stop motion visual effects but the cast of who’s who 80s/early 90s stars. Alec Baldwin, while still visible with “30 Rock” on TV, the others were especially in their prime during the era. Jeffrey Jones rise to cult fame came from 1986’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; Catherine O’Hara is, to me at least, best known as Kevin’s mom in the Home Alone movies; and then Geena Davis, a talented and charismatic actress who hasn’t been relevant since 1991’s Thelma & Louis (she was also very good in A League of Their Own), in fact her last theatrical movie was in 2002 with Stuart Little 2 (she does have something coming up in ’09, however). And the late 80s was the rise of Michael Keaton who got his break with Beetle Juice (proving he was no longer "Mr. Mom") followed by Batman and its sequel.

Mind you, it’s not a knock on the movie, just an observation and it did not count against my rating of the film itself...

I know many can overlook the illogical plot and that’s fine because this is by all accounts memorable for Michael Keaton’s oddball performance, but that in itself was my problem with the film as a whole: there wasn’t enough of him. Maybe he had more screen time, but he never is really fully seen until about 45-minutes in (of 92-minute running time), after which he’s only full embodied for what seemed like only a few minutes (in actuality, it was probably closer to 25-minutes). It’s interesting that the title character of a film is barely in a third of it.

Beetle Juice may not have lived up to the nostalgic side in me, but for what’s there and Burton’s always unique vision, it is certainly worth checking out one more time. Like other Tim Burton movies (*cough* Batman *cough*), it doesn’t exactly age too well, but there’s still plenty of fun that can be had. It is, on the other hand, probably perfect for viewing on Halloween night with friends and family. Beware of the PG rating as today it would definitely get a PG-13 for language, scary images and violence.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Ah, one would think with a “20th Anniversay Deluxe Edition”, a disc would contain a commentary with Tim Burton and Danny Elfman, perhaps a new featurette with interviews with Keaton, Jones, Ryde, etc and perhaps some long lost deleted footage/outtakes, instead this so-called “Deluxe Edition” contains, get this, 3 “Hilarious” Episodes from the Animated Beetlejuice series, a Music-Only Audio Track and the theatrical trailer. Fantastic, REALLY fantastic job Warner.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

For a movie that’s now 20 years old, it looks pretty good all things considered. I did notice on a couple instances some dust or scratches, but it wasn’t obvious to me. It is presented with a 1.78 AR, though from what I’ve been reading, the OAR may have been 1.85, but I can’t be sure.

WB provides a Dolby Digital 5.1 track that, outside of the music scores (opening titles, particularly), other aspects don’t sound all that great. Dialogue sounds flat as does the occasional ambient noises through the other speakers. A French Mono and Spanish Stereo Dolby tracks are also available.



.::OVERALL::.

Given the disc has no substantial new features; I cannot recommend this DVD at all, especially to anyone looking to upgrade from previous editions. It’s a shame that this was labeled with a “Deluxe Edition” tag because there is nothing deluxe about it. No commentaries, no featurettes, no deleted scenes... nada. I can only assume Warner will give it another shot with a 25th Anniversary Edition for 2013, until then, leave this on the shelf.