Sunday, December 9, 2007

Best Christmas gift ever: Sweeney Todd

Thank you, Tim Burton, for making your own movie version of Sweeney Todd and giving me something to do Christmas Day.

What could be better than a Tim Burton movie with Johnny Depp and Alan Rickman? Especially when Johnny Depp takes up the role as the "demon barber of Fleet Street?"

It's interesting, because my entertainment life has been filled with revenge flicks/ serial killer movies lately. The most interesting was Keeping Mum, a British comedy staring Rowan Atkinson and Dame Maggie Smith.

The movie begins with Smith's character as a young woman traveling by train. Her trunk is discovered with blood seeping out all around it; it is soon clear the young woman has committed the ultimate act of revenge: her husband was cheating on her, and she simply couldn't stand for that sort of thing. So, she killed him.

Fast forward to the present day, where Maggie Smith's portrayal of the polite, gentle housekeeper Grace slowly builds up a body count as she struggles to protect her new charges from both the outside world and themselves. The most interesting statement made by the film is that Grace sees murder and revenge as a necessity in an evil world, where she stands as sentinel against outside forces. Does the neighbor's dog keep the family up at all hours of the night? Well, then it has to go. Has the nosy woman down the street caught on? Off she goes.

The most powerful scene comes when the family's mother's lover is found spying on the daughter with a video camera. Played by Patrick Swayze, the man is downright creepy as he breathes hard and gives the unsuspecting teenager directives as he watches her through her bedroom window. It's impossible to feel remorse as Grace adds him to her body count. The service she provides is almost acceptable as she resumes her grandmotherly housekeeper role inside her household, although for much of the movie viewers are made to wonder if she'll turn against her employers.

Sweeney Todd has a similar need to protect his family, and some parts of the two movies' plots parallel each other. Without spoiling too much from either movie, here's a brief synopsis of Sweeney Todd and why it's awesome:

Johnny Depp's character, Todd, lives above a pie shop, where the owner is having a difficult time finding meat for her pies. To protect his daughter, get revenge for his wife's death, and provide for his new landlady/ piemaker, he starts building his own body count with his trusty straight razor. Out of all of the Broadway musicals out there, this is the first I've seen with a high body count and a wicked sense of humor. It's like The Phantom of the Opera, if the phantom was a homicidal maniac instead of a brooding outsider.

Sweeney Todd is a musical, which may turn some viewers off. But, it's also a demented revenge musical filled with gore, so it may make a splash in the box office. I know I'm going to see it.

For updates, trailers, and more visit the official Sweeney Todd movie site.

For an added bit of obsession, visit Sweeney Todd on MySpace.


WKnapik said...

I was considering seeing Sweeny Todd,but now that I know it's a can't do musicals.As soon as I hear singing, I am taken out of the movie.The closest I can come is Nightmare Before Christmas,which gets a pass based on the animation and overall style.
Keeping Mum, on the other hand, is a possibility.I'm not sure if it will play in theaters around here, but I'll have to keep an eye open.

Wendy Withers said...

Keeping Mum is already on DVD. I own it! I bought a used copy at my local mom and pop video store.