I remember the stories well.
My grand-father, the original Self-Made Critic (who made a small name for
himself when he wrote about the newly-opened film, Gone With the Wind,
"Never have I seen a longer or more tiring piece of hogwash in my life!
That Gable fella has as much sex appeal as a bloated midwife!") would sit
beside the fire on those long winter nights and tell me horrible tales of
the Headless Filmmaker, who made the most atrocious films and beheaded any
critic who panned them. He lived agelessly through the ages, working under
a number of pseudonyms, sometimes Ed Wood, sometimes Alan Smithee,
sometimes Jan De Bont. But he was always there, ready and willing to
behead the unfortunate critic who got in his way.
These stories, and the fear they created, stayed with me well into my
adulthood. Which is really the only explanation why I gave high marks
early in my career to films like Free Willy 3 and Steel. But now, I have
seen the light, and as usual, it took a movie to shape my thinking.
Finally, I see that Granddad Critic wasn't trying to warn me from a
potential danger, but rather he was having a laugh at the expense of a
gullible child by blatantly plagiarizing the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. And
this holiday season, the warped mind of Tim Burton has brought this legend
to the screen in a bizarre, wild, and highly eccentric adaptation entitled,
simply, Sleepy Hollow. (In the tradition of continually shortening movie
titles, the next adaptation of this story will be called "Sleepy!")
In Tim's Sleepy Hollow, Johnny Depp plays Ichabod Crane, who is not a school
teacher, as he is in the original story, nor a film critic, as he is in
Granddad Critic's tales, but a police constable. He is sent to the sleepy
little town of Sleepy Hollow to discover why a number of sleepy residents
are turning up headless. For some reason, his investigative methods
involve some the most wonderfully elaborate gadgets known to man. Stuff
that would make a dentist shake in his boots.
This movie is a ghost story. It's also a who-done-it mystery. (Well, not
exactly who-done-it, I mean we all know it's the Headless Horseman, but
more of a why-done-it in that we really don't know WHY he's chopping off
people's heads.) Personally, I have a couple of theories. My first theory
is that he's so incredibly happy in his no-head state, that he wants to
share this blissful condition with everyone, so he goes around 'freeing'
people from the burden of their heads. Or maybe, since he has no head, he
doesn't want anyone else to have one either. You know, head envy.
Whatever the case he chops a bunch of heads off a bunch of people, and it
has to be stopped.
I liked this movie. It taught me many things, aside from my Grand-father's
duplicity. It taught me that shooting a dead person will have little, if
any, effect. It taught me that Christopher Walken is pretty much the
epitome of evil. And it taught me that little Christina Ricci has turned
into a woman with really large breasts.
I want to take this moment to say to Hollywood, "Please, make more period
pieces with women in corsets so their breasts are bunched up around their
ears!" I mean it used to be a very naughty thing to think that Wednesday
Addams was hot, but then she turned 18 and now we can ogle all we like.
But aside from Christina Ricci's breasts (and Miranda Richardson's, for
that matter, and Lisa Marie's too) this film is about gore. The Headless
Horseman lops off people's heads. And we get to see it. A lot.
Excellent! Plus, this is Tim Burton, so you can expect all kinds of wild,
sick jumps and frights. Quite a warped little ride.
But the movie has its problems, as most do. (Except Babe. No problems at
all in Babe.) It's a little wooden. The performances are really not much
to write home about, with the exception of Johnny Depp who is pretty darned
cool is Constable Crane. But then, this is a fantasy. A creepy story from
the land of make-believe, and if characters don't necessarily have a back
history detailing their abusive father and alcoholic mother, so what?
The most important thing to know about this film is that it LOOKS COOL!
Eerie mist-covered set design, eerie foreboding music, eerie amount of
cleavage. It's pretty much exactly what you'd expect from a Tim Burton
film. And if you like Tim Burton, you'll probably like this.
I'm going to give Sleepy Hollow 3 4/5 Babylons. A wonderful tale of the
thing that goes bump in the night. Or rather, goes Lop! Lop! Lop! All
the way home. And since I now see that Granddad Critic's tales of the
Headless Filmmaker were rubbish, you know that I'm not just giving the film
a good review for fear of my life.
Think about it- if they ever made a movie starring the Self-Made Critic's
head, it would just be called "Hollow".
Directed By: Tim Burton
Starring: Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson, Casper Van
Dien, Jeffrey Jones, Michael Gambon, and a really, really brave unknown
actor who agreed to have his head removed for to play the part of the
Headless Horseman. I mean, it's gonna be pretty hard for him to find work,
just how many roles are out there for headless actors?