Thursday, August 17, 2006

Burton, Depp and Sweeney Todd

When I heard this news, my first thought was that I couldn't remember how long it had been since I actually liked a Tim Burton movie.

Turns out it was quite recently, with the ubercool "Corpse Bride," but his dour, disastrous "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" left a bad taste in my mouth that has unfortunately managed to linger.

Depending on which Tim Burton shows up, however, this new project may be just the confection to erase that from my memory. Teaming up once again with Johnny Depp, Mr. Burton is soon to begin production on "Sweeney Todd," with Depp bringing Stephen Sondheim's Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the big screen for Christmas 2007.

Now, I must confess, I've not seen the musical, which is enjoying a strong revival on Broadway at this moment. However, the thought of Johnny Depp as the wrongly imprisoned barber out for revenge on the streets of Victorian England just makes me smile wickedly.

I think the X factor here will be Danny Elfman. Surely Mr. Burton must have learned something by now from his series of rather miserable remakes. Here he has a classic Broadway musical to work with. If he lets the Elfman butcher this (anyone else have nightmarish visions of that CGI-cloned little man singing his awful oompa-loompa songs in Charlie, or is it just me), this could be a train wreck.

Mr. Burton is just as capable of inspiring wonder ("Pee Wee's Big Adventure," "Big Fish") as he is of sucking all of it off the screen ("Charlie," "Planet of the Apes.") Let's just hope the former Mr. Burton shows up for this potentially very funny project.

Walken and "Hairspray"

Speaking of Broadway, "Hairspray" was the last true Broadway spectacle I have managed to see ( I've since seen the sublimely silly "Putnam County Spelling Bee," but that hardly qualifies as a spectacle.) I had a blast at "Hairspray," but I just can't get excited one bit for the movie currently being made of it (especially since John Waters' original is a true American classic that hardly begs to re-created on the big screen.)

This morning, however, I got the the first bit of good news about this project. Christopher Walken has apparently stepped into the role of Tracy Turnblad's practical joke-loving dad, replacing Jim Broadbent.

Walken possesses the manic spirit that might make yet another version of "Hairspray" work, but the rest of the cast just leaves me flat. I just can't see perky little Amanda Bynes proudly declaring "I'm a checkerboard chick!" or John Travolta and Michelle Pfieffer managing to have any fun at all with this.

Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, the Tony-winning tandem that wrote the "Hairspray" score, are on board, at least, and will be writing several new songs for the movie. Here's hoping beyond hope that this somehow all works when it comes out next summer.

13 comments:

Koenig said...

"Sweeney Todd" is one of my favorite musicals, and I can't wait to see how this turns out.

If you're interested in getting a head start, you can always rent the DVD of the stage production starring Angela Lansbury and George Hearn.

Divinity said...

Walken's "Delilah" scene was the show-stopper for me in Romance and Cigarettes and, as much as I enjoy Broadbent usually, Walken seems like a better fit for Hairspray

Reel Fanatic said...

I will do that, Koenig, as much in preparation as just to enjoy a great musical

Divinity, I haven't had the pleasure of seeing Romance and Cigarettes yet ... Is it out on DVD now? I love Turturro, so I'm looking forward to it

Mercurie said...

I have to agree with regards to Sweeney Todd. There is the basis for a great movie there (I love the musical), but Tim Burton hasn't been consistently good of late. I loved The Corpse Bride, but then I hated his remake of Planet of the Apes and I only found his version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to be okay at best. I'm hoping it's the Burton who was behind Corpse Bride who shows up for Sweeney Todd....

Des said...

I saw a brilliant Sweeney Todd last year in London where the cast were also the musicians.

If this movie could be anywhere near the coolness of that performance then I'm all for it.

themarina said...

I'm VERY excited about Sweeny Todd. I'm not sure how much darker than the musical the movie could get but with Depp and Burton involved, I think it's going to be very, very cool. In a hot sort of way. Jeez that makes little sense...

Vasta said...

I fully trust Elfman, he's done some phenomenal things in the past (though his Charlie work was a little kooky) like the phenomenal score to Edward Scissorhands.

And I know what you mean about Amanda Bynes, but I'm going to sheepishly admit that she's one of my favorite comedic actresses.

Reel Fanatic said...

It's OK to admit that, Vasta .. I wasn't knocking too hard, just saying I'm not sure she has a dark enough side for this .. but, I've been wrong many times before!

RC said...

Sweeney Todd seems like it could be really interesting...can't say i'm jazzed about Hairspray...more indifferent than anything else.

--RC of strangeculture.blogspot.com

NATHANIEL R said...

i'm just worried about the musice. sondheim is a genius but his work isn't easy to sing and wasn't Depp dubbed for Crybaby?

Reel Fanatic said...

I hadn't heard that about the dubbing for Crybaby, Nathaniel, but I've often heard Depp talk about how much fun he had making Crybaby .. I would be surprised by that

Divinity said...

Sorry to take so long responding. R&C was released in the UK in July but I don't think that there's been a US DVD release date announced yet. I'll be sure to let you know if I hear anything...

Reel Fanatic said...

I looked for it at Netflix, Divinity, but no dice .. please do let me know if you hear any news about a U.S. release