2 In 1: Sweeney Todd and Little Shop of Horrors.

If you can’t figure out the theme for this 2 In 1 just from knowing something about either movie, it’s a theme of romance, dark comedy, singing, and murder. That’s right! The dark romantic musical comedies of death and murder! Or something like that. Anywho, as stated in the title, I finally got around to seeing Sweeney Todd, and I’m pairing it up with one of my favorite movies growing up, Little Shop of Horrors. So here we go!

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

Sweeney Todd is a revenge story about unrequited love with almost every character in the movie (at least the love part). And it stars at least a good fourth of the cast of the Harry Potter movies (okay, so that’s an over-exaggeration… but seriously, you could probably combine this movie with Gosford Park, and you’d have practically every important adult role in Harry Potter). But anyway, to the film: Sweeney Todd (Johnny Depp), once Benjamin Barker, is a scorned barber whose wife and baby daughter were stolen away by an evil Judge (Alan Rickman) and his ambiguously gay sidekick (Timothy Spall). Over the years, he plots revenge before finally coming back to London to exact it. He meets Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter), a meat-pie shop owner, and together they work together to help exact Mr. Todd’s revenge on those who have wronged him.

I have to say that the first half of the movie almost lost me. The music wasn’t overtly catchy (with a couple exceptions), and it was just kind of bland (no help to Tim Burton’s drab coloring scheme). But then the second half of the movie picks up once Sweeney loses it completely and goes utterly insane. The song immediately after that part, the one about how to get rid of the bodies, has to be my favorite from the movie. It was darkly hilarious and reminded me of something Stephen Lynch would sing. So yeah, the second half was much better than the first half.

On the subject of the music, the songs were either hit or miss—hit being the previously mentioned song, miss being the one and only song (albeit a short one) Timothy Spall attempts toward the latter end of the movie (unless I forgot another, but I think that was it). Some were catchy, some were just plain good, and some were either too weird (like Sacha Baron Cohen’s song) or too boring. And as the movie is almost entirely nothing but singing, that means the movie is really either hit or miss at times.

I think acting-wise, everybody did a really good job, even Sacha Baron Cohen (after I got over the weirded-out phase). Depp is brilliant as always, and Carter and Rickman were equally as good. Timothy Spall bugged me the most, but I think that was just the character, not his acting. He was just… odd. But the kudos’ for this movie go to the young Ed Sanders who played orphan-boy Toby. He did really well, especially the emotions on his face at the end of the movie.

Of course I have to mention the visuals. I sustain my thoughts that I had prior to seeing the movie: what was bleak and gray was very bleak and gray; what was bright and colorful was very bright and colorful. There was no in-between, and the majority of the movie had grays and blacks (and the occasional white to show off the blood red).

I’m not sure what else to mention about it. I think those were really all my major thoughts. The movie was pretty good, but it could have been better. Though, also to help me boost the score up to the point I do is not only because there were parts able to keep me on my toes, but I was caught off guard at the end with a twist I wasn’t expecting. I love it when movies can do that. It always makes me appreciate the movie more. And I really do appreciate what this movie did, even if it was disturbing (though I might have enjoyed it more had I not watched it with my mother, who was complaining about the blood and such for the entire last half of the movie).

I Am McLovin!

Little Shop of Horrors.

Back in 1960, Roger Corman made a cult classic in two days using left-over sets and such from a previous movie he had finished early (with a cameo by a very young Jack Nicholson). Years later, it was turned into an off-Broadway musical, which would later be adapted by Frank Oz and Howard Ashman into the 1986 musical extravaganza! Seymour Krelborn (Rick Moranis) is a skid-row orphan working under Mr. Mushnik (Vincent Gardenia) at Mushnik’s floral shop. He’s desperately and longingly in love with co-worker Audrey (Ellen Greene), but she’s shacking up with abusive and sadistic dentist, Orin Scrivello, DDS (Steve Martin). But after a total eclipse of the sun, Seymour discovers a fly-trap-esque plant and takes it in. He names it the Audrey II, and it immediately brings instant success to the bankrupt shop. But then Seymour discovers a deadly secret: the plant can only survive by drinking blood. So he feeds it his own blood until it gets too big and starts talking (voiced by Levi Stubbs of The Four Tops), requesting that Seymour go out and kill people to feed him.

This movie was my favorite growing up (which explains quite a lot, really). I’ve watched it an uncountable amount of times, and I know the words and lyrics backward and forward. It’s dark, it’s funny, it’s romantic, and it’s scary. This movie still creeps me out at times, and I hate being around plants in the dark. The one specific scene that will never ever stop scaring the crap out of me is toward the end when Audrey II calls up Audrey (who lives right across the street) and sings to her. Audrey slowly turns to her window and sees this enormous plant staring and laughing at her from across the street. God, just thinking about that scene creeps me out.

The singing is done very well, and Rick Moranis really has some pipes in him. Great voice. Really, every song is a classic with me, even if they aren’t my favorite (such as the more romantic ‘somewhere that’s green’. However, after I heard about the original ending and the irony around that song and its original purpose, I came to appreciate it much more).

And speaking of the ending, this movie has one of the most famous stories in cinema. They shot the original ending, the one taken from the stage play, where everybody dies and the plants take over the world, but it did poorly with test audiences. So they spent millions of more dollars to film a happier ending just to please the audience. That’s Hollywood for you. But I’ve seen the original ending, as well, and it’s pretty creepy (though the last frame of the happy ending is creepy in itself, too).

And this movie is cameo-central. There’s Bill Murray as the pain-loving dentist's patient (originally played by Jack Nicholson in Roger Corman’s version), and he has, hands down, the funniest scene in the entire movie. And he and Steve Martin improv’d the entire scene. Hilarity. There’s also Christopher Guest, John Candy, and James Belushi (also, as I just realized, for another Harry Potter reference, Miriam Margolyes is also in the movie (she was Professor Sprout in the first two HP movies)).

I really don’t know what else to say about this movie. I love every inch of it. I really recommend it to people who like musicals, dark comedies, or just anything twisted in general. It’s great fun (for the whole family!).

Royale With Cheese

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