A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie includes multiple references to dead bodies, skeletons, decay, and death, though all in good fun. The corpse bride's eye pops out occasionally, to show the talking maggot who lives inside and offers romantic advice. The story concerns a young man and woman who meet for a marriage arranged by their parents, both families in need of money. The young man's betrothal to the corpse bride leads him to contemplate his own death, in order to fit in with her friends. Song and dance numbers feature skeletons, corpses, and ghosts. Both sets of parents are using their children to achieve money and status. And when the live bride-to-be asks the local pastor for help, the film raises questions concerning the effectiveness of organized religion.
What's the story?
TIM BURTON'S CORPSE BRIDE begins as Victor Van Dort (voiced by Johnny Depp) and Victoria Everglott (Emily Watson) are to be wed in an arranged marriage. Their parents -- nouveau riche Nell and William Van Dort (Tracey Ullman and Paul Whitehouse) and recently poor gentry Maudeline and Finis Everglot (Joanna Lumley and Albert Finney) – expect the marriage to leave both families better off, either by means of money or class status. When a nervous Victor flubs the ceremony rehearsal, Pastor Galswells (Christopher Lee) sends him off to practice his vows. Stumbling around in the dark woods, Victor finally seems to get it right, slipping the ring onto what seems a twig. But no: the wood is really the skeletal finger of the Corpse Bride (Helena Bonham Carter). Victor is transported immediately to the Bride's netherworld. Though Victor wants to get back to Victoria -- currently menaced by a next suitor, the devious Barkis Bittern (Richard E. Grant) -- he is also sympathetic to the sweet Bride's lonely plight, and he waffles, lies, and generally watches his life and possible death go on around him.
Is it any good?
This movie is self-consciously clever. Victor is an exceedingly empathetic sort, but he is, after all, a bit of a wimp who spends so much time trying to please everyone else that he loses sight of what he wants for himself. Corpse Bride follows Victor's coming to terms with himself, as he figures out what he does want. Lucky for him, Victoria and the Bride are both very understanding. And lucky for us, the stop-motion animation is delightful. Though the story runs thin quickly, the visual show remains airy and charming. Especially if you don't mind the clattering of bones during dance numbers.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the dilemma facing Victor, who comes to love both the corpse bride and his arranged bride and so must choose between them.
How do Victor's and Victoria's parents pressure them to marry?
How might Victor have handled the confusion he felt differently to avoid hurting Victoria's or the Corpse Bride's feelings?
- In theaters: September 23, 2005
- On DVD or streaming: January 31, 2006
- Cast: Emily Watson, Helena Bonham Carter, Johnny Depp
- Director: Tim Burton
- Studio: Warner Independent
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 74 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: scary images
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.