Corpse Bride [2005]

Who else but Tim Burton could make Corpse Bride, a necrophiliac's delight that's fun for the whole family? Returning to the richly imaginative realm of stop-motion animation (after previous successes with The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach), Burton, with codirector Mike Johnson, invites us to visit the dour, ashen, and drearily Victorian mansions of the living, where young Victor Van Dort (voiced by Johnny Depp) is bequeathed to wed the lovely Victoria (Emily Watson). But the wedding rehearsal goes sour and, in the kind of Goth-eerie forest that only exists in Burton-land, Victor suddenly finds himself accidentally married to the Corpse Bride (Helena Bonham Carter), a blue-tinted, half-skeletal beauty (how pleasantly full-bosomed she remains!) with a loquacious maggot installed behind one prone-to-popping eyeball. This being a Burton creation, the underworld of the dead is a lively and colorful place indeed, and Danny Elfman's songs and score make it even livelier, presenting Victor with quite a dilemma: Should he return above-ground to Victoria, or remain devoted to his corpse bride? At a brisk 76 minutes, Burton's graveyard whimsy (loosely based on a 19th century Russian folktale) never wears out its welcome, and the voice casting (which includes Tracey Ullman and Albert Finney) is superbly matched the film's gloriously amusing character design, guaranteed to yield a wealth of gruesome toys and action figures for many Halloweens to come. --Jeff Shannon

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