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