Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sweeney Todd - A Cut Above

Sweeney Todd - A Cut Above

Review of:
By: Kim M. Bayne
Rating: 4 stars

I saw "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" on a Saturday night with an audience full of teen Thespians who had performed the stage play in a high school production. The teens "ooo'd" and "ahh'd" when the young men sang. The teens giggled and guffawed when throats were slit. It sure took the edge off an otherwise dark storyline.

Unless you know that Tim Burton's "Sweeney Todd" is an operetta combined with a slasher flick, you might not get it! Apparently, some audience members didn't do their . A couple at my showing were overheard saying "What is all this singing shit?" then they walked out. And there was the family that brought along their grade schooler...ummm, what part of an "R" rating did they not understand?

From my viewpoint, the movie was chillingly scary yet it had its moments of lightheartedness, and I admit that I knew in advance what to expect. I would go see it again, even though I had to cover my eyes more than a few times! This was a great adaptation, especially in its use of monochromatic sets and costumes that emphasized evil characters and glistening red blood. If there were an Oscar for "Most Creative Use Of Spurting Blood and Gurgling Sound Effects," this movie would win.

As for the acting, Alan Rickman was just perfect as the creepy Judge Turpin. Alan amazes me every time I see him in a new role. What a chameleon! Would you believe he had a singing duet with Johnny Depp?

Helena Bonham Carter did an adequate job as Mrs. Lovett, but brought nothing unique to the role. To be honest, it's tough to outdo Angela Lansbury, who appeared in the Original Broadway stage play.

Sacha Baron Cohen stood out...or should I say "bulged out"...as the well-endowed, colorful barber Pirelli. Not my casting choice, due to his slapstick acting style, but who else has made his name playing an inappropriate buffoon lately?

Best singers in the whole production? as young love interest Anthony Hope and as street urchin Toby.

As for J.D., the hilarious expressions (or lack thereof) during the beach dream sequences were well worth the price of admission. One caveat: I did a double take upon seeing Johnny Depp stand in one dramatic scene, complete with goofy hairdo and an outstretched arm brandishing a glistening razor. Visually, if only for one brief moment, it reminded me of Edward Scissorhands.

If you like the dissonant sounds of Stephen Sondheim musicals, the campy visuals of Tim Burton movies and the quirky character portrayals of Johnny Depp, then go see this movie. If you cringe at the mere thought of gratuitous blood and violence, you may want to wait until this movie comes out on video so you can fast-forward at will.

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