Sweeney Todd (2007)
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Review Date: February 20, 2008
Director: Tim Burton
Writer: John Logan
Producers: John Logan, Laurie MacDonald, Walter Parkes, Richard Zanuck
Johnny Depp
Helena Bonham Carter
Alan Rickman
A beautiful young barber is taken away from his beautiful young wife and child, when an asshole of a local British judge decides that he doesn’t like his face, particularly when it’s married to that beautiful young wife of his. The film begins 15 years later as the beautiful young barber returns to London (no longer so beautiful) and finds that his wife is gone and his child, holed up with that asshole of a judge. Lots of singing, meat pies, bloody murder and people reciting their dialogue in song (sigh) ensues.
This is one of those “Either you like it or you don’t” movies, and despite it looking 100% “up my alley” on paper, I was bored out of my skull during many a scene in this film, and wouldn’t dare recommend it to anyone who, like me, doesn’t like old fashioned musicals. And by that, I mean films in which characters suddenly break out into song, and not a “fun time” song, but rather one whose lyrics are apparently part of the plotline and you’re supposed to be able to hear them clearly as the actors wail over really loud background music. Bah! Humbug!! It’s funny because despite my dislike of musicals, I actually have enjoyed a few of the more “recent” ones including MOULIN ROUGE, mostly because the characters’ singing weren’t trying to mince their dialogue with the song lyrics. That said, it wasn’t just the musical stuff that I didn’t appreciate in this film, as the story itself was a little boring at first, and ultimately, a little too improbable. Yeah sure, I dug all of the bloody killings near the end, but that stuff barely started before the one-hour mark, up to which point I was straining my ears to figure out what the hell anybody was saying (the British accents didn’t help either).

Of course, as a “Tim Burton movie”, everything looked as dark, gothic and cool as ever, and everything from the costumes to the streets of London to anything else before one’s eyes, worked supremely well, but heck…give me an interesting character or two, will you? What’s with everyone in the film being really mean and nasty? Even Johnny Depp, as the titular character, didn’t manage to pull me into the movie as he usually does. Really though, I believe one’s appreciation for this gothic cinematic musical will come from one’s appreciation of Broadway plays and everything that comes with them. Burton is one of my favorite directors of all-time, and Depp is one of my favorite actors of all-time, and many of their previous collaborations are among my favorite films of all-time, but even all those positive preambles couldn’t get me to wanna stay put in my seat as a young homeless boy started crooning about how much he loved this girl he just saw in a window or when Depp took two minutes to sing “Hello” to his cutting blades. Even Helena Bonham Carter, looking her most Marla Singer-ish, wasn’t able to get me to pop a fanboy woodie for this flick. As for the songs themselves? Meh. And yes, even though I’m not a fan of singing dialogue moments, I can appreciate a catchy tune if I hear one, but there weren’t many that caught my ear during this picture. Maybe you have to be a fan of the play itself or see it a few times? I don’t know.

Alls I know is that despite all of the trimmings that should have had me foaming at the mouth, very little in this film actually entertained me and that’s a hard thing to say considering my love for most everyone involved with this movie. The songs took me out of it, the story wasn’t all that interesting, the characters were mostly jerks and I had zero emotional connection to almost everyone in the film. It also lasted about 30 minutes too long. Sure, it looked really dark and cool, the directing was effective, the actors were solid and the film’s final 20-30 minutes did get somewhat entertaining and bloody (less songs too), but overall, this was an uneven misfire in my view. Even the nomination for Depp as Best Actor at this year’s Oscars is surprising to me. The man has played at least a dozen other characters with more depth and worth than this one-note nutjob. “You sir! Too, sir!” Fuck off.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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