Beetlejuice: 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (1988) (DVD)

Ah if only for the days where saying a line like “Nice fucking Model!” would warrant a PG rating. If only for the days where snake monsters and women smoking through the holes in their necks were considered fodder for the prepubescent crowds. “Beetlejuice” is still mysteriously considered somewhat of a family film, and hell, it’s one I grew up on even in spite of disliking with immense passion.

Watching it again years later, “Beetlejuice” is still not the best movie I’ve ever seen and definitely not the best from the Burton gallery. All the antics we watch from Beetlejuice borders from pretty bland to just plain over the top, and while Michael Keaton’s performance is very good, the character of Beetlejuice is hazy because the writers can never decide if he’s a villain or an anti-hero. I mean for the love of god, he transforms in to a giant (creepy) snake and wants to marry a pre-pubescent little girl. He also spends most of his time fondling the women in the flick.

While the character is pretty iconic, his hazy characterization leaves us confused as to where Burton wants to take this movie. It’s also a shame that the most developed character here is the title character whose own back story begs for more emphasis over the stale heroes played by Alec Baldwin and Gena Davis. Some scenes and gags make absolutely no sense (the use of “Daylight Come”) and then there are some that are just mind blowingly surreal (The purgatory waiting room), but in spite of some glaring moments of entertainment, “Beetlejuice” is just not for me.

As for the DVD, Nostalgia! Nostalgia! Nostalgia! We’re given three episodes to the fondly remembered animated television series, the rare “Beetlejuice: Animated Series” that is really the only special features allowed. For this nineties kid, it’s about enough. “Beetlejuice” always took great pains in following along with Tim Burton’s whimsy and succeeding with the further adventures of Lydia and Beetlejuice in his home world where she plays the foil to Beetlejuice’s menacing but innocent antics.

Though not as horrific as the movie, it’s a definitely entertaining series and not as awful as I recall it being. There is also the “Music Only” track version of “Beetlejuice” allowing fans a look at the intricacies of Danny Elfman’s booming score. That’s the only bone Warner throws, fans. For a guy who didn’t enjoy it as much as everyone else, I’m set. So, twenty years later this quasi-horror comedy still isn’t as good as I’d heard from folks and my repeat viewings of it have proved that Burton doesn’t know what he wants out of the story. The DVD features are also disappointing considering it’s been twenty years. Who knows? Maybe they’re saving the good stuff for the twenty fifth anniversary edition.