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Ed Wood

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Ed Wood

Starring: Johnny Depp, Martin Landau
Director: Tim Burton
Rated: R
RunTime: 127 Minutes
Release Date: October 1994
Genres: Comedy, Drama

*Also starring: Patricia Arquette, Sarah Jessica Parker, Bill Murray, Jeffrey Jones, Lisa Marie, George Steele, Max Casella, Vincent D'Onofrio

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

You may or may not think this is one of the best movies of the year (Siskel and Ebert, I know, do), but for pushing the limits of an idea, the movie ED WOOD by director Tim Burton has got to be one of the most innovative. I was surprised how much I liked Burton's vision of ED WOOD since I am not a fan of Burton's work other than his BATMAN series which I sort of liked.

Imagine making a movie about a director, Edward D. Wood Jr., who was voted the worst director of all time. Not only that, Ed Wood made what is widely credited as being the worst movie of all time, PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE. Moreover, he also made GLEN OR GLENDA, BRIDE OF THE MONSTER, and other such classics.

There are two great things going for this movie. One, is the amazing true life story. Ed Wood was the eternal optimist who made one stinker after another, but still believed his next movie would be a success. The other is the amazing and infectiously happy acting of Johnny Depp (whom I loathed in WHAT'S EATING GILBERT GRAPE) playing Ed Wood. If you don't come out of this theater feeling upbeat, you must have gone in the wrong door in the multiplex. If the movie you saw was not filmed (Stefan Czapsky) in glorious black and white, then you saw the wrong movie.

Actually one of the problems I had with the movie was that it is playing the movie house with screens the size of small states. This is strictly an art house flick. This was a real problem for me.

Back to the fascinating story. You get to meet Bela Lugosi played by Martin Landau. At Oscar time, expect to see nominations for best actor to Depp and supporting actor to Landau. The movie happens during at a time when Lugosi career was about over with which is somewhat of a parallel to Landau's career, before this movie.

This is one of those films filled with minor actors and actresses you have seen before. Sarah Jessica Parker, who was great in HONEYMOON IN VEGAS, plays Wood's girlfriend. Jeffrey Jones, the principal from FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF, plays Criswell, the "great", well famous, psychic of the time. G.D. Spradlin who played the evil Senator, the one with the dead horse in his bed, from GODFATHER II, here plays the head preacher of the Beverly Hill Baptist Church which aids Wood's most trashy classic. Fact is stranger than fiction.

Since I have never liked Johnny Depp nor Tim Burton very much, that I am liked this film at all, is probably a testament to just how good it is. If you like Burton movies, hey, you are probably going to go gaga over ED WOOD.

As fascinating as the plot of this movie was, I found it lost my interest in parts. There is just so much to say about someone whose specialty is making something terrible. Nevertheless, if you like quirky movies or if you are interested in the art of making movies, I am sure you will like this film.

ED WOOD runs a little long at 2:05. The movie is rated R for profanity, cross-dressing, and drug use, but it actually is a fairly harmless movie. I would have no trouble letting older teens see it, and you could take younger teens with you. I recommend it to everyone except the totally non-experimental types--you probably don't want to take "the grandparents" to see it. I give ***.

Copyright 1995 Steve Rhodes

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