Saturday, March 6, 2010
I'm late! I'm late!
For a very important boycott!
I'm late because if I had really wanted to organize a successful boycott of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, I would have started weeks ago. Oh, I wrote negative things about it on my blog exactly two weeks ago today. But if I really wanted my boycott to have any effect on this weekend's box office, I would have taken out advertising in the newspapers, hired a skywriter, and had a get together at my house to construct picket signs, where I would have ordered pizza and served homemade cookies to all my volunteers.
Because if we don't boycott Alice in Wonderland, and the movie makes more than $80 million (that's what I'm expecting) at the box office this weekend, won't that just encourage Burton, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter to continue murdering classic stories by sapping them of all their inherent joy?
I have to stop here to acknowledge that Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is a book with a significant amount of darkness in it. I wouldn't expect, nor would I want, some dopey G-rated version that was about as insightful and hard-hitting as Disney's latest Winnie the Pooh movie.
But does this movie have to look so dingy and depressing?
Yes, it does, because Tim Burton made it. "Dingy and depressing" is his one and only speed these days.
I say "these days" because there was a time when it was different, wasn't there? When Burton was acquainted with the actual concept of joy? I consider Beetlejuice to be quite joyful, in its way. Same with Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, and especially Big Fish, which is the most recent time Burton has done anything approaching watchable, in my estimation.
But maybe I'm wrong about this as well. Maybe this is the way Burton has always been, and what's changed is my ability to tolerate it. Maybe I've reached my personal saturation point for dark and depressing fairy tales starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter.
There's evidence to support this, and it has everything to do with old Burton movies seen for the first time by people I trust. For example, I have a friend who only just saw Edward Scissorhands for the first time within the last couple years. It didn't have the magic for him that it had for me. In fact, quite the opposite -- it was just more proof to him that Tim Burton may never have been good. And the only reason that someone like me thought they fell in love with his movies was because I was 16 when Edward Scissorhands came out, I probably had something of a wicked crush on Winona Ryder, and Burton's twisted world view spoke to my over-developed teen angst. It's the same reason a 16-year-old might go see Alice in Wonderland this weekend and think it's the greatest movie ever made.
Hence this attempt at a boycott.
And when you come to think about it, I had my own experience like my friend's Edward Scissorhands experience with Burton's first movie, Pee Wee's Big Adventure. I only just saw this in 2005 for the first time. I considered my viewing long overdue, because friends had raved to me about it for years. So when I finally did watch it -- with my then-girlfriend, now-wife, who had also never seen it -- I was completely underwhelmed. "That's it?" I remember thinking. What I assumed should have been a gleefully unhinged and eccentric experience was, instead, a gloomy and joyless one.
"Gloomy" and "joyless" are, of course, synonyms for "dark" and "depressing."
Like I said, I wouldn't want to turn Tim Burton into Robert Rodriguez, who has kind of the opposite problem -- there's too much weirdly amped-up joy and color in the movies he now makes. But Burton's unending gray palettes are also wearying.
Where's the wonder, Tim? Where's the sense of childlike awe?
So yeah, I'm boycotting. It certainly helps my resolve that I'm trying to save money right now, and that if I weren't specifically boycotting this movie, I'd probably feel compelled to shell out $16 for a screening in IMAX 3D. I'd rather only give Alice in Wonderland whatever negligible amount of money it will eventually cost me to rent it.
Because I'll have to eventually see it, right? How else will I have enough ammunition for my next Tim Burton rant?