Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5. USA, 1990. Twentieth Century Fox. Story by Tim Burton, Caroline Thompson, Screenplay by Caroline Thompson. Cinematography by Stefan Czapsky. Produced by Tim Burton, Denise Di Novi. Music by Danny Elfman. Production Design by Bo Welch. Costume Design by Colleen Atwood. Film Editing by Colleen Halsey, Richard Halsey. Academy Awards 1990. Golden Globe Awards 1990.
Though uneven in story and tone, this enjoyable outsider comedy has a lot of visual brilliance and character poignancy to make it one of Tim Burton’s most notable achievements. Johnny Depp plays the creation of a mad scientist (Vincent Price in his last film role) who is left incomplete when his master dies. Fully human except for long razor-blade hands made from scissors, Edward is totally alone in his creator’s castle until an Avon lady (a delightful Dianne Wiest) comes calling and immediately takes him home to live with her and her family. Once there, Edward comes up against the most rigid of 1950s-era suburban morality, including the perfect teenaged daughter (Winona Ryder), the absent-minded but responsible dad (Alan Arkin) and the neighbours whose pastel-coloured cars match their pastel-coloured homes. In getting to know this new outsider, however, the audience soon learns that what these seemingly normal people have hidden in their daily lives is much more off the wall than a boy with scissors for hands. The beautiful visual quality is the most memorable aspect of the story, though the nasty violence in the end ruins it from being the perfect family film.