Director: Tim Burton
Cast: Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Annette Benning, Pierce Brosnan, Everyone
Have I Seen it Before: Oh Sure.
Did I Like It: It’s exactly the movie it wants to be, and if some people can’t appreciate that, I certainly can.
The text of this review appeared previously in a blog post entitled “How Could No One Else Like These Movies? Part Two, But With No Electric Boogaloo.” published 04/30/2017.
Quick. Name your favorite alien invasion movie of 1996. The Arrival starring Charlie Sheen. Close, but not quite. Contact? Not an alien invasion movie, and wasn’t even released in ’96! Come on, folks. Get it together!
Of course, most of you named Independence Day, and you’re still wrong. Roland Emmerich’s urban destruction-fest is so removed from any sense of irony, that it’s almost impossible to bear. On the other hand, Tim Burton’s running B-movie homage—à la the epic comedies of the ‘60s like It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963)—has a cast of what feels like thousands. Pam Grier! Tom Jones! Quarterback* Jim Brown! Also, Jack Nicholson channels his inner Peter Sellers and pulls double roles as the beleaguered American President James Dale, and casino developer Art Land**. What’s not to love?
Apparently, in the golden age of irony that was the 1990s, there wasn’t room for such a movie. But guys (and ladies), let’s get real. It’s a big Tim Burton movie that doesn’t have Johnny Depp putting a new wig through a shakedown cruise***. How many more of those are we likely to get?
*Which I'm told is some kind of footballman.
**Were the movie made today, those two roles could be filled by the same character. Courage, folks. We’ll get through this together.
***To be fair, Nicholson goes through at least two wigs in the movie, but it’s not like that became his whole life from that point on.