edward.jpgEdward Scissorhands was always one of those movies that I remembered not liking for some reason. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I knew that the last time I saw it, something was wrong. So recently, I re-watched the film and was taken away to a unique time and place in a manner that only Tim Burton can deliver. Burton is a true creative genius (there is much Bergoch in him, and if there wasn’t MySpace and Star Wars, I can only imagine the worlds that boy would create, but I digress) and it was amazing to get another glimpse into his artistic soul.

Edward Scissorhands is, of course, a fairy tale about an outcast, a theme embraced by some of Burton’s work. Depp takes the role in stride, creating a unforgettable character out of the machine-turned-man. There is much to love about the film; Burton’s twisted lens on suburbia, the caricatures of an ’80s Desperate Housewife and the machismo of good ole Anthony Michael Hall.

But after the second act something goes horribly wrong. Despite all the beauty and poetry weaved into the film, it’s as if the story gets lazy, as if Burton himself could not envision a way out of the magic he had put into place. My biggest problem with the film is, ironically, Winona Ryder. Yes, she’s actually quite lovely and wonderful in the movie, but her character is so flawed and the weaknesses punch holes into a very thin third act. She convinces Edward to rob a house, but when he’s caught, doesn’t stand up for him. When he accidentally cuts her, she runs off to get it bandaged instead of coming to his aid — and worse, when Edward saves her brother from being run over by a van, she keeps her mouth shut as the neighbors turn lynch mob.

At this point, the movie lost me. Yeah, Edward’s the underdog and he’s going to be bullied and misunderstood. I get that, and I can buy them turning against him due to some small lies spread by the local housewhore. But for it to slide so deeply into despair because people don’t act like normal people would. I mean, why didn’t the brother say, “It’s okay everyone, Edward saved me from BEING FUCKING RUN OVER BY A VAN DRIVEN BY DRUNK ANTHONY MICHAEL HALL!!!” ??? I know why, because without that, they wouldn’t have chased him away back to the mansion where the movie just ends and never really harnesses the pixie dust it sprinkled earlier.

It’s a story problem I see time and time again (LOST is full of them) and I’m willing to ignore in limited doses, but I just couldn’t let it some of them go for this one. It reminded me of another film Burnt and I watched once Dead Birds where, if a character just said, “I SAW HAND PRINTS… TURN INTO PAW PRINTS” or “I SAW A CRAZY GHOST KID UNDER THE BED!” things would have been different.

So my verdict in this opening pitch for RETRO REVIEWS: Even though it was wonderful to watch and listen, the actual story doesn’t sink in, leaving you hollow inside and left out in the cold. Just like Edward himself.

By E-G 421

2 thoughts on “Edward Scissorhands: Retro Review”
  1. I agree.  When I first saw it, I didn’t really like it either.  Maybe it was the fake snow.  Or maybe the stupid acting from that klepto brunette.  But I too saw it again (on cable years ago) and fell in love.  It does smack of Berg from another dimension…

  2. It’s no secret that Burton doesn’t tell stories as well as he paints worlds.  And I think of him that way – as a painter.  Whether it’s Corpse Bride, Mars Attacks or even Nightmare, the visuals and moods always outweigh the tightness of the script or structure.  But man, you never forget a vacation to his worlds, and that’s why he’s an auteur.

    I loved this movie the very first time and only in subsequent viewings did I start to pick it apart.  I agree in theory with all you’ve said, but it hardly got in the way for me.  Obviously you can pick apart any fairytale and say DOESNT RED RIDING HOOD SEE HER GRANDMOTHER IS A FRIGGIN WOLF?

    Edward Scissorhands remains a modern classic for me.  Literally just the other day, out of nowhere I started hearing the theme in my head and my mind filled with images of the cookie factory where Edward was created, and the look on Vincent Price’s face when he died (wondering if it were the same face he made for real) and that moment where he falls and edward’s scissors break up the plastic hands his master had created… I’m hard pressed to simply just THINK of movie images out of nowhere and still be moved by them.  And I haven’t seen this movie in over 6 years. 

    So in a sense, that’s my review of almost all Burton movies (especially those that are not remakes).  I think Ed Wood obviously had the best story of all, but then again it was written for him by history, and by screenwriters who had done another biopic (Larry Flynt). 

    Fair review, but to me Burton transcends these things in favor of simply making you dream while awake.

Comments are closed.