Edward ScissorhandsTim Burton’s imagination is an undeniable force.  Whether you love or hate his films, his visions are what our dreams and nightmares for that matter are made of.  Back in 1990, Burton, fresh off of his monster hit Batman, teamed with a rising star named Johnny Depp to create possibly the director’s most memorable (at least physically) character:  Edward Scissorhands.  Was the world ready for more of Burton’s madness?  And how would the general public feel about a retooled Frankenstein?  Let’s take a look…

Peg Boggs and her family live in just about the most Americanized 50s style town you can imagine (although we don’t really know just what year it is).  Peg is the all-American at home mom that is also a door-to-door cosmetic saleswoman.  During one of her trips to an obviously out of place castle on the edge of town, Peg stumbles across Edward.  Obviously sheltered his whole life Edward is extremely timid but is trusting enough to be taken in by Peg and her family.  But there is a little something special about Edward.  In place of his hands are the hedge clippers from hell.  Although they are referred to as scissors these things would make a lawnmower jealous.  First considered a freak by the town, Edward finds his niche by cutting bushes, hair, and dogs.   He is so loved that some women start to fall for him.  But Edward has other ideas.  He develops a very large crush on the Boggs’ family daughter, Kim.  Kim at first is fearful of Edward and his garish appearance but eventually sees through to his heart of gold.  But like everything good, it must come to an end.  Especially when you throw in Kim’s jealous boyfriend.  Will Edward get the girl?  And what happens when Edwards golden glow wear off?

Edward Scissorhands is on the surface an oddball love story, but deep down is Burton’s take on the Frankenstein lore.  It is definitely a different look at the overdone story.  The movie moves quite quickly and is full of amazing visuals.  The town itself is an experience on its own.  Even more astonishing is that it is a real town and not just sets.  Burton somehow manages to pack numerous characters into the film without it feeling cramped.  And you really get a decent feel for all of them.  The film really seems to be a mix of the darkness of his films like Batman and the goofiness of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.  Really nice to see is Vincent Price in a small cameo-type role.  He was an amazing actor that is greatly missed in horror and his legend lives on.  The film is worth seeing just for his last big screen appearance.

The acting here is a mixed bag.  Depp is good as Edward but he really doesn’t have much to do.  But that is also part of the charm of the character.  We praise Karloff for his portrayal of Frankenstein so we can do the same here.  Depp is an excellent actor that really seems to choose his roles carefully.  He is one of the few actors I go out of my way to see.  The real scene stealer of the film has to be Alan Arkin as Bill Boggs.  He is oblivious to so many things and he is just such a stereotypical dad.  His scene sharing scotch with Edward is priceless.  But with the good generally comes the bad.  Winona Ryder is ok here.  She looks strangely odd (go figure in a Burton film) with blond hair and she just isn’t on here like she was in Beetlejuice.  I am not a big fan of hers to begin with but Burton gets a decent performance out of her.  She just isn’t fit the good girl type mold.  Even odder is the casting of Anthony Michael Hall.  I loved him in 80s films like 16 Candles and Breakfast Club.  But casting him as a hardass punk type just doesn’t work.  I like when actors try to do off beat characters or go against their stereotypes but this just doesn’t work.  Hall never seems really comfortable and it’s a shame because he really can act.  But really these complaints are minor and the performances really don’t detract much.

Quite a success upon its release in 1990, Edward Scissorhands fits nicely in the Tim Burton catalog.  Possibly his quirkiest film next to Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, this film will delight his fans.  Full of great imagery (look for early renditions of Nightmare Before Christmas characters), this film is an onslaught to your eyes.  Add in another solid score by Danny Elfman(has he ever had a bad score?) and you have a solid film.  While it is not a mainstream love story or comedy, this is an entertaining way to spend a couple hours.  Well worth at least a rental.  7 out of 10.

Posted on June 3, 2008

Category : Reviews

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