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Corpse Bride

Genre: Animation/Comedy
Rated: PG
Directed by
: Tim Burton & Mike Johnson
Starring: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Emily Watson, Tracey Ullman, Paul Whitehouse, Albert Finney, Christopher Lee, Richard E. Grant
Released by: Warner Bros.

In Short: When the shy son of a wealthy fish merchant and the daughter of a penniless aristocrat are betrothed, a lovable dead bride intervenes in the couple’s wedding plans!

Till Death Do Us Part
An Animated Love (and Death) Story
By Veronica Marian

What happens when we die? According to Tim Burton's latest stop-motion animation endeavor, we party! "Downstairs," (as the afterlife is called) in "Corpse Bride" is a colorful jazz joint and a homey congregation of dancing skeletons, garish ghosts and friendly French severed heads—definitely preferable to the dreary Victorian world above.

Victor (Johnny Depp), the shy son of a wealthy fish merchant is betrothed to Victoria (Emily Watson), the equally shy daughter of a penniless aristocrat. The two fall in love, but the idea of marriage terrifies Victor to death—literally. While practicing his wedding vows in the nearby forest, he finds himself saying them to the wrong girl!

The corpse bride
Strange wedding

Emily (Helena Bonham Carter) is a lovely, albeit partly decaying, dead bride whose true love had jilted her on their wedding night, when she was killed. Since that "murder most foul," she's waited patiently to be made a bride once again. Finding herself with Victor's ring on her finger, she’s convinced he is her rightful husband and takes him to "live" in the colorful land of the dead. Meanwhile, Victoria tries desperately to help her beloved escape his Corpse Bride, but she is forced to marry the sinister Baron Barkis (Richard E. Grant).

The stop-motion animation is at times combined with CGI technology, resulting in a smoother, cleaner look than the earlier "Nightmare Before Christmas." Danny Elfman, who has worked with Burton on many films before, wrote the score. In "Nightmare," the music kept us entirely within the confines of Halloween Land, but this time songs are often tributes to real musicians, reminding us so much of songs we already know that it detracts from the fantasy experience. The neon-infused jazz number performed by the scatting skeleton Bonejangles (voiced by Elfman himself) is fun to watch, but feels out of place in this comically morbid world.

Dead Napoleon

What doesn't feel out of place is Johnny Depp's voice, which lends a loveable vulnerability to Victor. Emily's huge innocent eyes coupled with Helena Bonham Carter's sultry voice make her character so likable that we almost cheer for her to get the guy. The rest of the cast is just as enjoyable, with Christopher Lee as the ominous Pastor Galswells and Richard E. Grant as the slimy Barkis being particularly entertaining.

“Corpse Bride” is a must-see for the visuals and the undeniably cute story, but overall pales in comparison to Burton’s other stop-motion animation film, the unforgettable “Nightmare Before Christmas.”

(Updated 01/21/08 NJ)

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