Thought of the Week: The Week Before Christmas (An Ode to Retail)

As a veteran retail employee, I know just how hectic it can be for anyone in the service industry in the days leading up to Christmas. One of the things that never ceases to amaze me is how much time people spend spending, and how little time they consequently must be spending with the people for whom they’re shopping in the first place. Wouldn’t it be better, perhaps, to spend a little less time at the mall, and a little more time with your family … ?

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Movie Night: Flubber

Year: 1997

Director: Les Mayfield

Production Company: Walt Disney Pictures

Leads: Robin Williams, Marcia Gay Harden, Christopher McDonald

Little Satis was in a bad mood the other night, so I went on Netflix in search of Robin Williams. Nothing cheers me up like Williams, but unfortunately Netflix is a bit devoid of decent films these days. They do have Good Morning, Vietnam and Good Will Hunting, but I think Little Satis is just a touch too young for those movies. This left us with Jumanji, which we’ve already seen, Hook, and Flubber. We should have gone with Hook, but I recalled the slapstick of Flubber and thought it would please an eleven-year-old.

The gags come off feeling a little tired and recycled.

I wasn’t wrong, but we were both left feeling slightly empty at the end of it all, despite the chuckles and giggles. Flubber is a remake of the 1961 The Absent-Minded Professor, also by Disney, and whilst I’m usually a stickler for watching the originals first, Netflix didn’t have it, and as I mentioned above, I really just wanted Robin Williams. It follows the story of a … well … absent-minded professor who invents a substance that gains kinetic energy from kinetic energy (i.e. the more you bounce it, the more it bounces). It’s hardly a ground-breaking plot, but I can’t help feeling that more could have been done with it. After all, such an invention in real life would change the world.

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Movie Night: Beetlejuice

Year: 1988

Director: Tim Burton

Production Company: Geffen Company

Leads: Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Michael Keaton

Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetle—

No! Ahh!

What is there to say about this immensely enjoyable Tim Burton classic that hasn’t already been done to death? Heh heh. This tale of a very-much-in-love couple who plunge to their demise off a New England covered bridge, only to be resurrected as hosts in their own house, is such a staple of the Tim Burton canon that its only surprise is not featuring Johnny Depp. At least there’s the magnificent Danny Elfman score, setting the stage for many a musical-of-the-dead to come.

It wasn't the smoking that killed me …

It wasn’t the smoking that killed me …

This was, of course, the first time Little Satis had seen Beetlejuice, and I think that some of the humor escaped him slightly. After all, the whole movie concept is a just a touch on the dark side, and much of it relies on understanding the many ways there are to die. I actually found myself holding myself in check at points and deliberately not pointing things out – such as Sylvia Sidney‘s breathing smoke from her slit throat – just to avoid disturbing a ten-year-old. I’ll admit – it’s been a while since I’ve seen the film myself, and I forgot a few parts.

One part I most definitely did not forget, however, is Winona Ryder‘s ultra-goth Lydia Deetz, which, along with her portrayal of Mina Murray in Dracula a few years later, firmly cemented my lifelong crush for her. The funny thing is that, looking back on it, she really wasn’t all that miserable; apart from an obsession with all things weird and strange, it wasn’t until she met the deceased Maitlands that she uttered that favorite phrase of goth kids everyhere: “I wish I were dead.” And at the end—what’s with the dancing?

Ah, Winona …

Ah, Winona …

Still, there’s enough inexplicable shenanigans in the movie to let that one slide, and this is perhaps the film’s only fault: not everything makes 100% sense. Of course, it could be argued that’s part of its charm, and I wouldn’t disagree – but why on earth do dead people end up on an outer space sand planet when they leave their house? Why did they end up confined to their house in the first place? And why, oh why, couldn’t Beetlejuice tell Lydia his own name? He freaking broadcasts it on dead-TV! And why did he need to marry Lydia? Hm … Beetlejuice, Corpse Bride … it seems Tim Burton has himself a little obsession with marrying the dead, no?

Anyway, Beetlejuice is an ineffably enjoyable movie (I’m not sure that even makes sense), and if you haven’t seen it, you don’t deserve to be alive!

 

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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