Not to be confused with the Simpsons episode The Bart of War, in which Bart and Milhouse consume Beatles-inspired soda drinks (John Lemon, Paul McIced Tea, Orange Harrison and Mango Starr), Beetlejuice is about a self-described ‘bio-exorcist’ (Michael Keaton) who’s enlisted by a recently-deceased couple to help get rid of a still-living family who now inhabit their house.
Delightfully weird, this is among Tim Burton’s finest work, benefiting from an askance view of the world and bizarro production design, as well as a uniquely Danny Elfman score which invokes the macabre while also maintaining an appropriate zaniness.
Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis are likable as the mild-mannered lead couple, reminiscent of Brad and Janet of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, finding themselves in a remote house surrounded by weirdos and eccentrics among whom they’re hopelessly out of their depth. A young Winona Rider is also excellent as the family’s gothy daughter, and 80s staple Jonathan Jones, best known as the headmaster in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, plays her father.
It’s of the same chaotic brand of 80s cinema that brought us Big Trouble in Little China, but feels more focused in its scope, being set primarily within the house. However, its long set-up, and substantial amount of time before Betelgeuce is introduced, make it feel somewhat front-heavy, and the ending rather abrupt.
Michael Keaton plays the titular character in manic style, cranking his performance up to 11 and filling every moment of screen time, in the iconic outfit which would see many imitators, including Drag Race’s Laila McQueen. I’ll leave you to decide who wore it best.