I am a big fan of Tim Burton. I am a big fan of musicals. I abjectly love Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. And I really like steak. My prediction was that watching Sweeney Todd was going to be the pinnacle of my existence thus far, and that eating cloned beef was going to be pretty much unnoticeable and unexciting. Unfortunately, the movie failed to deliver the kind of rapture I was anticipating. I was ready to revise my top ten list, people! I was ready to make space next to Evita and The City of Lost Children and The Nightmare Before Christmas! We even imposed on our only local relative so we could go and see it in an actual theater. But Sweeney Todd failed to transcend.
The whole thing was a little claustrophobic. The shots too tight. The storyline too controlled. The surfaces too grimy. Where were the sweeping shots, the dazzling landscape, the bitter contrast between in and out, Halloweentown and Christmastown, the woods and the hearth, the suburbs and the castle? In one number only, Burton emerged: during Mrs. Lovett's "By the Sea" song, we saw everything his movies can be: it was like Big Fish and Corpse Bride all in one song.
But that was all, really. The rest was very tight, very close, very monotonous. Johnny Depp looking haunted next to this window, Johnny Depp looking haunted next to that window, and Helena BC rushing up and down the stairs. Did I love it? Well, yes. Of course. Johnny Depp and Alan Rickman sang a duet, using their own voices. Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen made me laugh. The two little birds he cast to play the young lovers were swell. But it just didn't go there, for me. It wasn't beautiful. It wasn't grand. Dark is great, terrible is great, but I need a more expansive scope, a broader arc, a higher swell. Dan says my expectations were too high.
But never fear. A light is dawning on the horizon. Surely cloned beef will satisfy my intestines, where Sweeney Todd has failed to thrill my soul. Or, at least, it will go through my digestive system completely unnoticed, a perfect simulation of regular meat that came about via the original reproductive process. People are cranks. They say it's unnatural, weird, creepy; some even say "abominable." Ever the optimist, I approach my cloned beef consumption with a bright spirit. No, it won't be labelled. No, I won't have any idea when the cloned beef is about to pass my lips. But I have faith that when I spoon up that next bite of chili, so full of such a technological wonder, that I, like those poor souls in Mrs. Lovett's shop, will eat hungrily, happily, without concern. Forget the barber upstairs, people, and enjoy your damned meat pie.