Corpse Bride no Nightmare
September 26, 2005 —
When watching Corpse Bride, it is hard not to compare everything about the movie to The Nightmare Before Christmas. After all, the two have a lot in common. Both are otherworldly tales with unlikely heroes, and both feature wonderfully crafted characters and scenery. And of course, both come from the mind of Tim Burton, that genius of the dark and bizarre.
Unfortunately, constantly thinking back to The Nightmare Before Christmas only made everything about Corpse Bride fall short of my expectations. The movie is not bad by any means, but, as one movie-goer exclaimed upon leaving the theater, "It's no Nightmare Before Christmas."
Corpse Bride is based on a Russian folk tale where a groom unknowingly marries a corpse (hence the title of the movie). The groom, voiced by the man of a million Tim Burton movies, Johnny Depp, is the son of a rich couple and is arranged to marry a woman he has never met. Upon meeting her, he falls for her, but he is too nervous to get through the wedding rehearsal. This sets up his running into the woods, where he mistakenly takes the hand of a deceased bride.
The story is interesting enough, but the movie lacks something. The characters are gorgeous and the landscapes are too, and everything has that typical spooky Tim Burton feel. But a lot of times the scenes don't fit the scenery; that is, the movie isn't setting the right mood to go with what is on the screen.
Unlike the appropriately catchy musical numbers in The Nightmare Before Christmas, several of the songs in this movie seem out of place. Instead of expressing the emotion of the characters, these childish songs accomplish little more than embarrassing any grownups in the audience.
And that is really the main weakness of the movie - a lot of this stuff feels like it is aimed at kids. Many of the jokes are unoriginal and unfunny, and several of the characters, including an annoying maggot and a talking spider, only take away from the complexity and intelligence of the movie. Yes, this is an animated feature, not Cinderella Man, but the movie shouldn't have to lower itself to being embarrassing just to appeal to children.
The Nightmare Before Christmas had characters with feelings - characters that the viewer might actually care about. Depp's constantly nervous Victor Van Dort is a one-dimensional bore. He does things in the movie without reason, and it is difficult to figure out which of his two brides he truly cares about because apparently he changes his mind more than he changes his mood.
But it really is not fair to Corpse Bride to put it side by side with Burton's modern day classic The Nightmare Before Christmas and point out all of its shortcomings. After all, on its own, Corpse Bride is a good animated movie that is a welcome change from all of the computer animated films that hit theaters these days. It may be a little stale at times, but that can be expected from a movie about a corpse.