"Corpse Bride": Ghoulishly fun

Sept. 25, 2005, midnight | By Becca Sausville | 13 years, 9 months ago

Tim Burton breathes new life into fall films

There are a lot of things a woman wouldn't want her fiancé to say the night before their wedding. Chief among these would involve VD, sexual orientation, previously committed felonies, maybe even a drug habit or two. But these wouldn't hold a candle to the pre-wedding confession of Victor in Tim Burton's "Corpse Bride." Nothing could be worse than "Honey... I married a corpse."

This is precisely the scenario Victor faces in Tim Burton's newest movie, a dark fairy tale that follows in the footsteps of his classic 1993 "The Nightmare Before Christmas." The film starts out with Victor Van Dort (voiced by Tim Burton favorite Johnny Depp) and his overbearing nouveau riche parents (voiced by Tracey Ullman and Paul Whitehouse). His parents want social status, so they find the first privileged girl they can and pull sensitive and shy Victor away from his butterfly painting and piano playing to the home of Victoria Everglot and her snobbish (yet supremely broke) parents. The Everglots (voiced by Joanna Lumley and Albert Finney), for their part, are marrying off their beautiful and sweet daughter to stop themselves from being thrown into the poorhouse.

Poor Victoria is a Cinderella in her own home, what with her monstrous parents and seemingly unobtainable dreams of a love-filled marriage. Yet when Victor and Victoria meet, sparks fly. They both feel a little better, although Victor is a nervous wreck. After a disastrous wedding rehearsal (he trips, sputters, forgets his vows), Victor is sent into a distressed tizzy when the priest (voiced by Christopher Lee) tells him off.

He runs into the woods, where he practices his vows way too well, managing to marry a dead chick who was buried in the forest after she was murdered by her fiancé the night they were supposed to run away together. This presents a problem for Victor because he really likes Victoria! But then here's this dead blue woman who will not relinquish her ownership of the wedding band Victor placed on her finger. Luckily, she's still decomposing, so she's still pretty hot. But the dead girl, Emily (voiced by Helena Bonham Carter, Tim Burton's other favorite) is still dead. So between living-dead spouses, tyrannical parents and pining for true loves, Victor has a lot on his plate. But as in any fairy tale, everything turns out a-okay.

The film is well written, with delightful details woven together with the gently macabre plot. Danny Elfman (who provided the music for recent Burton vehicles "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "Big Fish," as well as "Nightmare") adds wonderful songs and a fantastic score. Elfman once again proves his talent with a variety of songs that include an upbeat Oompa Loompa-esque song featuring dancing skeletons and a gently tragic melody for Emily's poor broken and re-broken heart. The voice talents make the film extremely entertaining, with Depp perfecting Victor's nervous stutter and Carter effectively portraying Emily's innocent longing for love. Lee has become the epitome of Hollywood Intense Evil Dude. His recent credits include Willy's dream crushing father, Dr. Wonka, in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," Count Dooku in "Revenge of the Sith" and Saruman in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. That pattern is continued with his fantastic performance as Pastor Galswell, a no-nonsense guy who commands respect with his booming voice yet scary demeanor.

While "Nightmare" purists may turn up their noses at the film as a disappointment, "Corpse Bride" is an excellent example of a director doing what he does best in the best way he can. It's also really short with lots of cool animation effects. Burton returns to his "Nightmare" days and utilizes stop-motion filming with puppets. "Corpse Bride" is the perfect way to jump into the fall movie season for any Johnny Depp fangirls (or boys), or anyone who enjoys dead chicks or just has a soft spot for the morbidly sweet genre that Tim Burton does so well.

"Corpse Bride" (76 minutes, at area theaters) is rated PG for some scary images and action, and brief mild language.

Becca Sausville. Becca is a senior who is keeping the dinosaur dream alive. She loves Silver Chips a lot, possibly more than life itself. More »

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