Favorite Scene Theatre: Beetlejuice (1988)
Next to the brilliant ED WOOD (1994), my favorite Tim Burton film remains BEETLJUICE, a manic rollercoaster ride about a cute ghostly couple trying to rid their home of the living by invoking the gross spirit of the titular character, played with reckless abandon by Michael Keaton. This movie is all kinds of wonderful, from Danny Elfman’s fantastic circus-score to a plethora of terrific actors including Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Catherine O’Hara, Winona Ryder, and Jeffrey Jones. But as in NIGHT SHIFT, this is Keaton’s spookshow all the way, turning in what I think is one of the greatest comedic personas of the decade and beyond. He is so fully subsumed in the role that he simply becomes Beetlejuice. Here’s a great moment from his toy graveyard debut and both Davis and Baldwin provide expert support. I particularly like the way the scene veers from Burton’s quick edit effects to a handheld verite style, all capturing the many bizarro facets of Michael Keaton’s best film performance. It’s Showtime!