Hippo Manchester
September 29, 2005


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Corpse Bride (PG)
by Amy Diaz

Tim Burton pours on the full goth sparkle in Corpse Bride, a feast of visuals that almost (but not totally) keeps you from realizing how much singing this movie contains.

First, a word on the title: I have to admit, I have no idea what it is. Official movie information seems to suggest that itís Tim Burtonís Corpse Bride but equally reliable sources (Internet Movie Database, for example) suggest that Corpse Bride is A-OK too. For the sake of brevity here, Iím going with Corpse Bride. Also, seriously, itís called Corpse Bride. Who but Tim Burton would direct it?

Also, who but Tim Burton would have skeletons and corpses dancing and singing with the zest of a Broadway show? Victor Van Dort (Johnny Depp) starts the movie the object of much parental delight ó his new-money family is overjoyed by his impending marriage into cash-poor nobility. A frightened rabbit of a man, he is actually rather warm on the idea of marriage, being quietly enchanted by the equally timid Victoria (Emily Watson). But her overbearing and seriously disappointed parents are too much for his fragile composure and Victor (a cross between a Daddy-long-legs and Adrian Brody) scurries off to the woods to practice his vows. Unfortunately, the twig he picks to serve as Victoriaís hand is in fact the hand of a dead and semi-decayed woman (Helena Bonham Carter) who, despite her condition, has excellent hearing. When he repeats his vows, she takes it as an oral contract and accepts, causing a very bewildered Victor to try to figure out how to explain his new wife and her frequently-falling-out eye.

Victor, too polite to completely abandon his missus, travels with her to the land of the dead and returns to try to set things right with Victoria, only to head back to the land of the dead and the possibility of an eternal marriage to a woman missing half her flesh.

Throughout it all, the characters sing and dance like Disney characters whoíve gone off their Prozac and taken to reading Lemony Snicket. Itís all very pretty and adorable, in a doll-missing-its-head kind of way, and, like so much of Burtonís work, the visuals stay with you long after any serious thought about the story has faded. The movie plays like a lovely picture book ó youíll spend so much time gazing in wonder at the detailed artwork the words get lost. But, when you do pay attention to the dialogue and plot you find something surprisingly entertaining ó a fairy tale, simple and direct and unspoiled even by all the singing.

If Barnes & Noble had storytelling for adults, itíd probably look something like this.