My Top 5 Tim Burton Movies

Tim Burton has been wowing audiences with his distinct visual and story telling style or years, earning him cult and auteur status amongst his biggest fans. His stories of outsider characters trying to fit into society has touched the many people who also feel like they do not belong. He has become a voice for the freaks, the weirdos, the misfits.

I have been a big fan of Tim Burton’s since I was a kid living in a small village. A distinctly round peg, trying to fit in a very square hole, the stories of skellington men, the scissorhanded, and the plain strange were a great comfort to me, as I knew then that I as not alone in the world. Although perhaps some of his more recent films haven’t quite hit the mark (I’m still not sure what Dark Shadows was all about) his earlier work still endures and is as popular today as they ever were.

With Tim Burton’s latest release, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children right around the corner, I thought I would compile my top 5 favourite films of Tim Burton’s for your reading pleasure.

5) Beetlejuice

beetlejuiceIt’s the ghost with the most. Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton), the vile (but let’s face it, hilarious) human exorcist is employed by the ghostly Adam (Alec Baldwin) and Barbara (Geena Davis) Maitland to get rid of the terrible Deetz’s, who have moved into their home and taking over.

One of his earlier works this is full of that typical Burton style, there’s plenty of stripes, dark humour, wonky angles everywhere (especially in the ghostly government offices) a dark twist on suburbia, there’s even an early appearance from Jack Skellington, albeit it’s just his head on top of the merry go round Beetlejuice turns himself into. It’s a rip roaring comedy with some great set pieces and memorable scenes, not to mention a great calypso soundtrack.

 

4) Big Eyes

big-eyesThe most recent of Tim’s movies to make the list, this is based on the true story of Margaret Keane (Amy Adams). Margaret was an artist in the 60s, who met and married fellow artist, Walter (Christoph Waltz). After realising Margaret’s paintings got far more attention during shows he began to pretend the works were his own, keeping the lie going for years, making Margaret work in secret, even from her own daughter from a previous marriage. Eventually the lies and secrets take their toll on Margaret and she plans to break free from her captor.

Although there are many things that might seem like typical Burton themes, the horrors of suburbia being the biggest, though I would say that visually it is very different from a lot of his other films. It’s all about bright colours, and rather than a fantasy like setting Burton keeps it real and simply for his colour palette, costumes and settings. He also explores the theme of domestic abuse, though I felt that this came secondary to the main story and could have been explored more.

 

3) Pee Wee’s Big Adventure

pee-weeFrom the latest, to the first. Burton’s Debut feature from 1985, might seem like a silly film about a strange man child. Really though it’s a masterclass in taking the absurd reality.

Pee Wee (Paul Reubens) has the best bike in town, it’s red, shiney, and really, really cool. One day as he’s shopping for new bike accessories Pee wee’s bike is stolen! Oh no! As you can imagine he is devastated, and sets off on an adventure of a lifetime to get it back. Along his cross country trek he meets many different people who help him to his destination. Every person is weird in their own unique way. They have a dream of some kind that sets them apart, makes them different in some way.

It might not be a film that will teach you about the human condition, or help you to learn about historical figures that lived 1000 years ago. It will, however make you laugh like a 3 year old mainlining sugar, and will provide an excellent way to spend a couple hours of your life.

 

2) Edward Scissorhands

edward-scissorhandsProbably Burton’s biggest criticism of American suburbia. Though set at the time it was made, in the late 80s/early 90s the small community at the centre of the story often feel like they’re stuck in the 1950s, but in style and attitudes.

Edward (Johnny Depp) lives on his own in a big, creepy castle overlooking a pastel coloured community, one day a lovely lady called Peg Boggs (Dianne Wiest) wanders up to the castle, in the hopes that someone will buy her Avon products. Instead of a makeup starved housewife she find Edward, who she decides to bring down to stay with her and her family in their house. Though initially the new and unusual person is accepted by the community, though the tides turn when he does not want to sleep with one of them, and things begin to turn a little more sinister.

It’s a lesson on how suburbanites can often seem like good people, but the attitudes of the community can often be dictated by one person, and if you are not considered favourable by that one person then you do not have a chance in the community. The additional love story between Edward and Peg’s daughter, Kim (Winona Ryder) makes this a true modern fairy tale. This also marks the first collaboration between Burton and Johnny Depp.

 

1) Ed Wood

ed wood.jpgThis is my favourite Tim Burton Movie to date. It tells the tale of movie director Edward. D. Wood Jr, who was voted the worst director of all time in a 1979 poll thanks to movies such as Plan 9 From Outer Space and Bride of the Monster. If you’re not familiar with those titles, but you loved The Room, I suggest you look them up, they are a classic of the ‘so bad they’re good’ genre.

Starring Johnny Depp as the titular character this is very different from a lot of other Burton movies, there’s no campy, twee, yet twisted setting, there’s not even a Danny Elfman score (they had a minor disagreement at the time). It’s even shot in black and white, which gives it more of an arthouse and realistic feel. A large portion of the story is about how Ed is a transvestite, and about his acceptance from the people around him, this is dealt with with sensitivity and unquestioning acceptance. Most of all this is a story about one man’s passion to get his movies made, his movies are his life and without them he is nothing, yet he is always suffering setbacks and ridicule, but he keeps going, he keeps pursuing his passion no matter the cost, and that is why this is the best Burton movie.

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Pee Wee’s Big Holiday Review

In the 80s and early 90s and you wanted to have a wacky fun filled time there was one man you could always rely on. Pee Wee Herman.

pee wee

He provided kids with a haven of silly crazy, nonsense, where anything could happen and it often did. One moment that always sticks in the mind is when Pee Wee married his bowl of fruit salad.  Here’s the theme song, you can get it stuck in your head too. 

 

It’s been 28 years since the last cinematic outing of everyone’s favourite man child. In the last installment he went to work in a circus in Big Top Pee Wee, which was somewhat of a let down after the triumphant Pee Wee’s Big Adventure and the subsequent TV series Pee Wee’s Playhouse.

As a big fan of zany nonsense, I loved Pee Wee as a child, and I still believe Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (which shall henceforth be called PWBA) to be one of the greatest kids films and one of the best of the director, Tim Burton’s.

pee wee big adventuer

So, as you might imagine when I heard there was going to be a new Pee Wee movie that was going to involve Judd Apatow I was pretty excited. So, once the morning of 18th March finally rolled around, I stayed in my pyjamas, poured myself some cereal, and pretended I was 7 years old again as I turned on Netflix for something I have been waiting for for a long time.

The plot starts off with Pee Wee (according to the credits, Pee Wee plays himself, but really it’s Paul Rubens) loves his home town of Fairville, CA. so much that he has never left, and has no intention of ever leaving to explore the big wide world. However, one day a handsome cool stranger walks into the diner where Pee Wee works as a chef  (Joe Manganiello, who plays himself with great humour) and they immediately hit if off and become BFFs. So much so that Joe invites Pee Wee to his birthday party. In New York. In 5 days time!

pee wee joe 2

After some advice not to just get a plane and go cross country, Pee Wee takes the plunge and sets off on an adventure of a lifetime.

Along the way he conveniently meets a ragtag collection of characters who both help and hinder our plucky hero along the way, including a travelling salesman, a farmer and his nine daughters, an Amish community, and a gang of female thieves on the run.

pee wee maebe

If you’ve ever seen PWBA then this might sound a little familiar, just replace birthday party for stolen bike and you pretty much have the same story with new characters. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, out of the slew of remakes and reboots of famous franchises over the last few years the best ones have essentially followed the format of the original movie (Jurassic World and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I’m looking at you!).

The jokes are hilariously bad, if you love a good dad joke, then you’ll happily chuckle away throughout the film. There’s a great use of slapstick humour as well, an art form I feel is sadly lacking these days. The movie starts off with a beautifully orchestrated Rube Goldberg machine that involves the entire community helping Pee Wee on his way to work.

The plot bounces along with a good pace, and none of the supporting characters feel like they overstay their welcome, despite the long list of cameos there is only one true star of this picture. Pee Wee himself.

Paul Reubens, Pee wee Herman

 

Rubens manages to bring his famed Character back to life with a great energy for a man of over 60. Pee Wee feels like his good old self, though I suspect Rubens may have farmed out some of the more strenuous stunts to a team of stunt Pee Wees. He carries the film through to the finale with all the adorable naive aplomb you’ve come to expect.

Even though I was thrilled with the silly, slapstick humour I think my main problem with the film was the feeling that it couldn’t quite escape the shadow of PWBA, although many reboots have made use of old formats, they’ve been able to update them enough that they become fresh, unfortunately there just wasn’t enough changes from PWBA for me to fully get it out of my mind, and all I could do was compare it throughout my viewing. Along with the lack of originality it sometimes the wacky, zaniness that comes with Pee Wee felt a little forced, like they had to do it because it worked before. PWBA, although similar, always made sense within the world that was created around and by Pee Wee. I never quite got that same feeling in Big Holiday. 

pee wee amish

I did enjoy the movie on the whole, and this will definitely help to keep the kids quiet on a Saturday morning. For those of slightly older fans, however, I would make sure to put any other Pee Wee incarnations out of your head before watching and just take the movie for what it is; a daft romp about a man child exploring and discovering a big wide world in the best way that he can. By making friend with everyone he meets.

 

★★★☆☆