Beetlejuice

 
Early Tim Burton is creepy, dark fun for tweens and teens.
  • Review Date: April 17, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1988
  • Running Time: 92 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The characters eventually learn to live together peacefully but this is more ancedotal than a deliberate positive message.

Positive role models

Beetlejuice is rude, crude and dirty. Lydia is depressed and occasionally suicidal. Barbara and Adam are good people understandably unhappy in their situation.

Violence

A woman blows cigarette smoke out of her slit throat. An afterlife waiting room abounds with people in various states of deadness (but it's more funny than scary). Main characters are chased by giant striped worms in a desert. A teen shrivels up like a mummy in a matter of seconds. The teen also contemplates suicide.

Sex

A miniature Beetlejuice finds a whorehouse in a model-sized city; some women invite him inside.

Language

A bit of mild cursing, plus one utterance of "f--k."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that there are some serious themes in this outrageous film: a young married couple comes to grips with the fact that they're dead, and a teenager contemplates suicide. Because of this, it's not suitable for children younger than 9. But there's nothing here that older kids can't laugh at.

What's the story?

Swerving to miss a dog in the road, Adam and Barbara Maitland (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) drive off a bridge into a river. Arriving back home, they realize that not only are they dead, they're trapped in a sort of limbo in their own house. The cryptic "Handbook for the Recently Deceased" they've been left with offers little guidance. When a new family moves in and assertive Delia Deitz (Catherine O'Hara) starts remodeling, the ghosts decide they want them out. Their attempts to scare off the new inhabitants fail miserably, though. The only one who can see them is terminally morose Lydia (Winona Ryder), the Deitz's teen daughter. Sympathizing with the Maitlands' predicament, she summons Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton), "the afterlife's leading bio-exorcist," to their aid. It doesn't take her long to regret the decision.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Tim Burton has an abnormal talent for capturing morbid, cartoonish imagery onscreen. There were glimpses of that sensibility in his grandly peculiar first feature, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, but that was only a teaser. In his follow-up feature, BEETLEJUICE, a wild burlesque of a movie, Burton lets all of his snakes out of the bag. The wriggliest of those snakes is Beetlejuice himself. Played by Michael Keaton, he's a scum-covered, bug-eating ghoul dressed in something akin to a soiled umpire's uniform. Kids and adults alike will find it hard to resist him. Keaton gives such pungent life to the title character, and to the movie as a whole, that it's no wonder Burton defied Hollywood logic and cast him as the unlikely star of his next film, Batman, and the grittier Batman Returns.

A few other things you'll see in this movie that you won't see anywhere else include a room where the recently deceased mingle while waiting to see their afterlife case workers, and Dick Cavett and company dancing as puppets of the supernatural to Harry Belafonte's "Day-O."

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why Lydia was so sad. How did she deal with it, and was her way of coping effective? How do you deal with it when you're sad?

  • Also, what do you think of this bizarre take on the afterlife? What other movie depictions can you think of? Which is the most outlandish?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:March 30, 1988
DVD release date:June 25, 1997
Cast:Geena Davis, Michael Keaton, Winona Ryder
Director:Tim Burton
Studio:Warner Bros.
Genre:Comedy
Topics:Monsters, ghosts, and vampires
Run time:92 minutes
MPAA rating:PG

This review of Beetlejuice was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 10 and 17 year old Written bysdotwolf March 13, 2009
age 13+
 

great movie but a lot more than the review says

great, witty, and entertaining movie. i only take issue with the inaccurate description provided by common sense. there are several sexual references ("sexual perverts" and moaning mistaken as active sex by teenager for two examples). there's a lot of swearing - s**t, god d*** (many of this), hell (not just as the place), and one f***. there are some very, though comic in context, scary images (face ripped off, bloody toothed monster, people cut in half, etc). there are also many (8) references to suicide. it's just for an older crowd than 9 years old.
Parent of a 4, 4, 7, and 10 year old Written by4kidmom May 6, 2010
age 10+
 

Good for tweens and up

We really like this classic from way back when! It's a little disgusting, very funny, but too disturbing for younger kids. They will miss the humor and only be scared or disturbed by it, and they will not understand, nor should they be introduced to the recurrent images and ideas surrounding suicide. There are also several language issues that we had forgotten about until we were already watching it with our 10 and 7 year old( One utterance of F**k and several other less potent swear words). Our 7 year old should not have been watching it!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Kid, 10 years old October 27, 2010
age 8+
 

A favorite

One of my favorite movies I saw it one night on tv and i saw it on netflix it is a awsome movie I love Tim Burton . This movie is a little inappropreate for little kids. But kids ages 8+ will be able to watch it. If you don't mind creepy things you are good to go. Good for a Halloween movie marathon.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Great role models

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