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Tim Burton
Michael Keaton, Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Annie McEnroe, Maurice Page, Hugo Stanger, Catherine O'Hara, Winona Ryder
Writing Credits:
Michael McDowell, Warren Skaaren

A couple of recently deceased ghosts contract the services of a "bio-exorcist" in order to remove the obnoxious new owners of their house.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$8,030,897 on 1,000 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English Dolby 5.1
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Spanish Dolby 2.0
French Dolby 2.0
Quebecois French Dolby 1.0
German Dolby 2.0
Italian Dolby 2.0
Castillian Dolby 2.0
Brazilian Portuguese
Supplements Subtitles:
Brazilian Portuguese

Runtime: 92 min.
Price: $9.98
Release Date: 10/7/2008

• Isolated Music Track
• Trailer
• Three Beetlejuice Cartoon Episodes


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Beetlejuice [Blu-Ray] (1988)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 14, 2016)

As the calendar changed to 1988, Michael Keaton's career had taken a notable downturn. Whatever spark he exhibited during his start in films like Night Shift and Mr. Mom seemed completely doused by the time he appeared in low-brow dreck such as Johnny Dangerously and Gung Ho. After only a few films, Keaton seemed doomed to suffer the fate of a comedic journeyman: year after year of mediocre comic piffle.

However, the events of 1988 were to alter that path, at least briefly. Keaton starred in two films that year - Beetlejuice and Clean and Sober. While these projects featured divergent subject matter, they coalesced in one respect: the near unanimous praise for Keaton's work in both pictures.

Via this one year and one National Society of Film Critics award as best actor - which was given to him as a result of his work in both movies - Keaton made it to "A"-list status. He jumped to a starring role in 1989’s mega-hit Batman, and it seems unlikely that he could have obtained that plum part as the Dark Knight had he not made such positive impressions with his 1988 output.

Of the two Keaton flicks in question, I find Beetlejuice to be the far more compelling film. 1988 proved that Tim Burton was the real creative force behind 1985's Pee-Wee's Big Adventure.

I loved and continue to adore Big Adventure. Although many may dismiss it as piffle, few films have approach its level of creativity, wit, and manic energy, and it remains one of the funniest films ever made. I always assumed that this stemmed from Pee-Wee himself - I figured it had to be Paul Reubens' show, right?

How wrong I was! Within a few months of each other, we saw the follow-up efforts from both Reubens and Burton. As already discussed, Beetlejuice was a delight and it performed well at the box office.

On the other hand, Big Top Pee-Wee offered an absolute disaster. I saw it opening night, and not only did it fail to reignite the sparks caused by Pee-Wee, but also it couldn't even muster any giggles.

I didn't laugh once during the entire - mercifully brief - Big Top. In fact, I think the on-screen antics only provoked me to smile once or twice. Most of the time, I sat gape-jawed in horror at the putrid "comedy" shown before me.

Clearly, Burton was the real auteur behind the brilliant extravaganza that was Big Adventure , though it took his subsequent films to establish that fact even more clearly. While most view Beetlejuice as superior to Big Adventure, clearly I disagree. The former tries harder to be more of a coherent film - as magnificent as it was, Big Adventure essentially amounts to a series of loosely connected gags - but it simply lacks the bizarre creativity of the earlier effort.

Nonetheless, Beetlejuice remains a thoroughly entertaining little romp through the afterlife. Young married couple Adam (Alec Baldwin) and Barbara (Geena Davis) die unexpectedly and find themselves trapped as ghosts in their own house.

This seems pleasant enough until the Deetz family moves into the abode. Faced with their intolerable intrusion, Adam and Barbara try to use their ghostly talents to scare away the Deetz clan – but fail because they’re too nice.

A possible solution presents itself when a self-proclaimed “bio-exorcist” named Beetlejuice (Keaton) offers his services. This cure may be worse than the disease.

As noted, Keaton's work in Beetlejuice earned justifiable praise. Without his brash performance as the title character, the movie still would have worked well but it would have lacked the spark that took it to another level. Keaton pulls out all the stops in a tour de force.

Through a successful job of casting, the film also features a high percentage of actors who went on to varying degrees of fame and fortune. Geena Davis, Winona Ryder, Alex Baldwin - all these actors were nearly unknowns when Beetlejuice hit screens. Only Davis had achieved any significant success with her minor role in 1982’s Tootsie. 1988 ended up as a career year for Davis: she earned a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for that year's Accidental Tourist.

Really, the most prominent actors in the film other than Keaton were Catherine O'Hara and Jeffrey Jones, and one wouldn't exactly have called them superstars. O'Hara was - and still is - best know for her consistently superlative work on the late, much lamented SCTV, though she also starred in 1990’s megahit Home Alone. Jones appeared in supporting roles in popular films like Amadeus and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

No matter what their previous or future successes may have been, all the actors acquit themselves well. To a degree, Keaton overshadows all of them, of course, but that seems virtually inevitable since most of his scenes force the others to act as straight men for him.

Nonetheless, all the other members of this amazing cast do well. I seriously doubt that the magnificent Catherine O'Hara could ever be less then delightful - though she couldn't save the first two Home Alone movies - and Ryder plays her role as Goth teen Lydia with a nice balance of spunk and misery. Jeffrey Jones supplies his usual level of low-key goofiness as well.

Actually, although it may seem otherwise, Keaton's really a supporting player in Beetlejuice. The film's mainly about the recently deceased Adam and Barbara and their difficult adjustment to the afterlife. Both Baldwin and Davis play their roles as the only normal people in the film with charm and fine comedic timing.

All of these factors lead to an enjoyable film. Beetlejuice doesn’t qualify as a classic, but it still stands as a fun, amusing little comedic romp.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B+/ Bonus C

Beetlejuice appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The transfer reproduced the film pretty well.

Sharpness usually remained pretty crisp and accurate, as the movie offered only a few examples of soft or fuzzy images. Some wide shots lacked great delineation, but most of the film seemed well-defined. I noticed no issues with jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge enhancement seemed absent. Source flaws also failed to create concerns, as no specks, marks or other defects caused distractions.

Colors seemed successful. The film tended toward a somewhat extravagant palette, with hues that varied from natural to ghoulish. The transfer pulled them off well and made them look good.

Black levels generally seemed to be deep and rich, and shadow detail looked nicely opaque but not overly thick. A few blacks looked a bit too dense, but most were pleasing. No one will use this disc to show off their big honkin’ TVs, but it gave us a good version of the film.

Beetlejuice boasted a remastered Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack, and it provided an involving and active presence. Danny Elfman’s score emanated boldly from the various channels, and it added a great deal to the presentation. Some good ambience also appeared in the various speakers; the elements showed solid localization and they meshed together well.

In addition, audio quality appeared strong, as the score continued to shine. Elfman’s music provided clean, robust tones that displayed fine dynamics. Dialogue was slightly stiff at times, but for the most part speech sounded reasonably natural and distinct, and I heard no problems related to edginess or intelligibility.

Effects were also clear and accurate, and they showed no signs of distortion. Ultimately, this soundtrack worked well for its age.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the 2008 Deluxe Edition DVD? Audio seemed a bit livelier, and visuals came across as tighter and smoother. The Blu-ray became a nice reproduction of the film.

The Blu-ray duplicates the 2008 DVD’s extras. We get the film’s theatrical trailer as well as an option to watch the film with a music only soundtrack. The latter offers Elfman’s score with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, which makes it a nice treat for fans of movie music.

Next we locate three Beetlejuice Cartoon Episodes. The disc features “A-Ha!”, “Skeletons in the Closet” and “Spooky Boo-Tique”. Each one lasts 12 minutes, 15 seconds.

Ignoring the events of the movie, the Maitlands are nowhere to be found, but Lydia is best pals with Beetlejuice and we follow their adventures. Despite the macabre settings, this is pretty typical Saturday morning wackiness. It’s not terrible, but it’s not particularly amusing either.

As a film, Beetlejuice doesn’t compete with the best work from Tim Burton, but that statement relates more strongly to the high quality of his other efforts, for Beetlejuice remains a funny and effective flick. The Blu-ray offers pretty good picture and audio but supplements seem forgettable. I’d like a stronger batch of bonus materials, but this still offers a quality disc for a fun movie.

To rate this film, visit the DVD review of BEETLEJUICE

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