This year marks the 30th anniversary of Beetlejuice, the 1988 horror comedy starring Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Michael Keaton, and Winona Ryder. Because it seemed that I was the only person on earth who hadn’t see it, last month, I added the movie to my DVD Netflix queue and gave it a watch. Here are seven things I liked about Beetlejuice:
- A retrospective of favorite actors. Alec Baldwin (handsome and funny), Geena Davis (statuesque, and did you know she’s a member of Mensa?), Michael Keaton (the range of his roles: from villainous ghost to fast-food mogul), and Winona Ryder (playing a conflicted teen, as she did so well).
- The heartbreak of infertility. Barbara Maitland hasn’t been able to conceive. A neighbor implying that she doesn’t deserve to live in such a big house without a bunch of kids makes us sympathetic to her situation.
- A light look at death. The manner of Barbara and Adam Maitland’s passing takes place in a matter-of-fact scene, and when they find out they’re dead, they accept their plight, and so does the audience.
- Bureaucracy follows the dead into the beyond. Of course, you’ll need a caseworker when you die. Of course, there will be a manual. Read the manual.
- The misfit, troubled teen. No one can see the Maitlands, except Lydia, suffering through her father’s remarriage to a materialistic artsy type and feeling invisible herself.
- The treatment of suicide. The Maitlands find out that in the afterlife, people who committed suicide are doomed to work as civil servants, a negative consequence.
- Educational value. The movie takes the title character’s name, Betelgeuse, the name of a real star in the constellation, Orion, and turns it into an accessible name that kids love to say, Beetlejuice. My own kids were proud of the fact that they knew the difference between the two.
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