Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Cut Above the Rest

Edward Scissorhands
Director: Tim Burton
Cast: Johnny Depp, Dianne Weist, Winona Ryder, Alan Arkin, Michael Anthony Hall, Vincent Price
Released: December 14, 1990

Oscar nominations:
Best Makeup (lost to Dick Tracy)

I can just see Tim Burton's pitch for this movie: "I want to make a movie about this guy and he has SCISSORS for HANDS!" And the producers were probably like, "Hmm, that sounds interesting. Go for it, Mr. Burton!" If any other person had directed this, no doubt it would have been a horror movie. I mean, the guy has SCISSORS for HANDS! That is completely terrifying! And not just one pair of scissors for each hand, oh no, he has one huge pair of scissors for each hand, then a few other smaller ones. But being that it's a Tim Burton movie (and, if, for some reason you didn't know it was directed by Burton, you would totally be able to tell), it's very whimsical. There are elements of romance and comedy and some horror, but none of the horror is brought on by the guy with SCISSORS for HANDS! (Gee, how do you think they came up with his name?) I believe this is the first movie Burton and Depp made together and they would go on to make many more movies together, for better or worse!

I had seen this movie before, but it's been quite awhile. The only other person I remembered in this movie besides Johnny Depp as the titular character was Winona Ryder, who plays Kim, the love interest. She actually doesn't appear in the movie until about forty minutes in. Well, technically, she's at the very beginning as her character as an old woman so she's wearing lots of old age makeup. Her granddaughter wants to hear a bedtime story so she tells her the tale of Edward Scissorhands. I had completely forgotten about this scene and was thinking, That old lady sure sounds a lot like Winona Ryder with an old lady voice, then realized, oh, yeah, duh! That's because it IS Winona Ryder! 

One of the interesting things about this movie is that it isn't set in a specific time or place. It's sort of timeless like that. Obviously when we first meet Edward it's quite a few decades earlier as Kim was an old woman in the first scene and now she's telling the story of when she was a teenager. We first meet her mom, Pam (Dianne Weist) who is an Avon lady selling her products to the neighborhood, but not having any luck. All the houses in the neighborhood look exactly the same, only they are all different colors: either pink, blue, green, or yellow. They all live in a cul-de-cal and at the end of the cul-de-sac is this huge, looming gray castle on a cliff that is obviously CGI-ed in. Well, I don't know if CGI was a thing back in 1990, but they obviously did something to paint it in the picture. Pam gets the idea to sell her products to this place and that's where she meets Edward. She is quite taken aback by this strange young man who is very pale, dressed all in leather, has scratches all over his face, and, oh yeah, has SCISSORS for HANDS! Since Edward appears to be alone, she decides to bring him home because she feels bad for him. In the car, he gets very excited and points at something, nearly jabbing her in the face with his scissorhand. She uses her products to apply to his face to try to get conceal the scars. (Poor guy probably gets one every time he has to scratch his face!) 

There are quite a few funny scenes. Since Kim is away camping for a few days, Pam lets Edward sleep in her room. She has a waterbed and he pokes it with one of the blades from his scissorhand and water is sprouting everywhere. There's another moment where Pam has lent Edward some of her husband's clothes and is sewing something for him and needs a pair of scissors to cut a piece of thread and she's looking around, and, duh, she has Edward Scissorhands right there in front of her so she asks him to cut the thread and he does, looking quite proud of himself for being useful. Pam also has a younger son and there's a scene where Pam and Edward are sitting at the dinner table with him and Pam's husband (Alan Arkin). Since he has SCISSORS for HANDS, Edward is having a bit of a difficult time eating and it's pretty funny watching him try to scoop up one little pea and attempt to put it in his mouth. (You think he would just stab it with one of the blades!) I don't know why they didn't help him with his food. It makes you wonder how he ate before he even got there. Of course, being created by an eccentric inventor (Vincent Price), he probably doesn't really even need to eat. We see flashbacks of the inventor with Edward and Edward was suppose to get a pair of hands, but right before the inventor was about to touch them, he drops dead. I don't think they would have helped Edward much anymore as they were just plastic hands! I wasn't really sure how exactly Edward was created; I guess he's suppose to be a Frankenstein-like character. Instead of being scared of him (well, the extremely religious woman does call him the devil), all the neighbors are delighted by him, especially when he starts trimming all the hedges into delightful shapes such as people and animals. (He seemed to like cutting them into dinosaurs). He also gives haircuts and trims dogs. There's a scene where he cuts the hair of a very shaggy dog and it's so obvious it's a completely different breed of dog because the dog was much shorter before it got all its hair cut! 

Edward sees a picture of Kim and becomes quite smitten with her. Everyone remembers the relationship between the two of them and this might be because Depp and Ryder did have a relationship for a little while. Because, honestly, their relationship in the movie makes no sense. When they first meet, it's quite amusing. Kim must not have told her parents she was coming home early, because she's dropped off at her house and goes to her bedroom where Edward is in her bed. She starts taking off her clothes (but not all of them) and looks in the mirror when she suddenly sees Edward in her bed in the reflection and starts freaking out. Her parents go into her room and there's a funny shot of Edward getting out of the bed and walking down the hall really fast. A lot of Depp's acting is just based on physical comedy as he doesn't speak very much and when he does talk, it's only one or two words at a time. When he does say a full sentence, it's quite jarring because you're not used to it and it doesn't seem natural. Kim has a boyfriend, Jim (Anthony Michael Hall), who's a real jerk and uses Edward to unlock his dad's office with one of the blades so he can steal something. Edward ends up getting caught and blamed for the whole thing. Kim breaks up with Jim and helps Edward after the entire neighborhood has turned on him. One of the neighbor women has accused him of assaulting her when she opened a salon for him to cut hair. The woman has already been set up to be a bit of the neighborhood skank, so she has plans to seduce Edward, but he ends up running away from her. At first, I thought maybe he had accidentally killed her by slitting her throat by accident with his scissorhands when things started to get intense (I told you it's been awhile since I last saw this!) because he looks pretty scared when he runs out of the room, but a few seconds later you see the woman appear, looking quite angry. This is when she tells everyone that Edward tried to rape her. Jim is also pretty angry at Edward for taking his girlfriend away from him and he and Edward get into a fight at the mansion and Kim stabs Jim with one of Edward's blades and he falls through the window, crashing to his death. Kim kisses Edward and says goodbye to him and tells the others he has died so they have no reason to go in the house and look for him.

Like I said, the Edward and Kim relationship comes out of nowhere and doesn't make any sense. And really, do you really think that would work? How would it when the guy has SCISSORS for HANDS. How would you even....I mean, what if they.... Why would that skanky woman want him to.... Let's face it, the whole intimacy thing is a little freaky. I think they did the right thing by not taking it any further than a sweet little kiss. Instead, after Edward is back living alone in the huge mansion, he carves magnificent ice sculptures, often in the form of Kim.

I much prefer the mother/son relationship between Edward and Pam. It's much more fleshed out (even though she does disappear during the last third of the movie when the Edward/Kim relationship is trying to become a thing. Dianne Weist is great at playing the mom role (see Parenthood and The Lost Boys) and it made me laugh when she first enter Edward's house and says, "Hellloooo! Is anyone here?"

This is a very quirky, whimsical movie and it's quite moving and funny at the same time and if you have never seen this for some reason, I would definitely tell you to check it out. 

This also stars the first of my Christmas movies! From now until Christmas, I will be reviewing holiday movies. Technically, I wouldn't call this a true Christmas movie as there is only one scene set during Christmas and the rest of it takes place during the rest of the year.

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