Friday, July 29, 2005

Death Becomes Her

I recently watched the DVD of Death Becomes Her, the 1992 dark comedy directed by Robert Zemeckis.

The movie introduces us to movie star Meryl Streep's Madeline and budding writer Goldie Hawn's Helen when Goldie brings her fiance', Bruce Willis, over to meet her "best friend," the friend "who stole every boyfriend I ever had" in school. Two beats later, Bruce and Meryl marry, and Goldie goes off the deep end. Cut to seven years later, and Meryl is a washed-up hasbeen who is quickly losing her movie-star beauty. Bruce, a brilliant plastic surgeon when they met, is now a drunk who doctors up cadavers to make them look nice in the casket. Goldie, now living in a psychiatric ward, has an epiphany and realizes what she must do to exact revenge. Both Meryl and Goldie approach Isabella Rossellini, in a rather revealing role, for the secret of eternal youth and beauty. However, things go awry as they learn you may be able to live forever but you can't always get new body parts.

I remember loving this film when it first came out. I was shocked, however, when Bruce Willis came onscreen. He played totally opposite his usual macho shoot-'em-up kind of guy. Bruce really hams it up in this movie, a move which seems wise as he tries valiantly to keep up with divas Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn. One of the funniest moments is when Bruce confides that he uses car paint to give the dead that fresh look, and he's able to use that skill to great effect when Meryl's and Goldie's bodies don't hold up during their warfare. Apparently audiences didn't take to the switch, and Death Becomes Her quickly exited theatres. The audience for such a film would be hard to find under the best circumstances.

Despite audience wishes for their heroes, the comic timing of the Big Three in this film is flawless and hilarious. There are a couple of troublesome issues with the movie. For instance, the movie's pace slows considerably, and the plot wanders off, when the two women stop battling each other and try to join forces. And it's difficult to like anybody here, even for milquetoast Bruce, as both women are unethical, deceiving, horrible excuses for human beings. And it's awfully tough to have an ending when your characters are immortal. But don't worry about all that. Just sit back and laugh, and wonder how the hell Goldie is going to cover up that big hole where her stomach used to be.

Thumb's up.


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