Skip to content

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

September 28, 2009

7/10 Failed Gillette Spokesmen

I’m not really one for musicals, but hey, if Tim Burton’s attached to it, I’m in, baby.

Sweeney Todd is about a barber in London that once had a sweet ass life with his gorgeous wife and newborn daughter, that is until a seedy, a-hole politician decided to shit on it by sending good ol’ Sweeney off to prison so that he could have the nice barber’s family for himself. Flash forward a ways and Sweeney gets out of prison, he’s right pissed off, he shacks up with the creepiest woman in England, he goes back to shaving folks for a living/slitting everyone’s throats so that their fat asses can be used as the main ingredients for meat pies, and all this so that he can get his family back and kill that jerk who ruined his life.

England’s crazy, man. Freakin’ meat pies. What a rip.

So it probably goes without saying that this isn’t really your typical subject matter for a musical, but that’s actually a big reason why I liked this movie. A good deal of the musical numbers revolve around killing folks, wanting to kill folks, and cannibalism, and that’s alright. It might not seem all that entertaining, but it’s one of those things you need to see to actually get the appeal. I think more musicals could use numbers like these to spruce things up, but alas, beggars can’t be choosers.

But the beauty of Sweeney Todd lies in how it continually manages to make a morbid storyline really enjoyable, because this sucker could have been a pretty unpleasant trip in someone else’s hands. With that said, it takes a talented director to make an audience laugh throughout graphic throat-slitting sequences, but luckily Tim Burton is one dark mofo with a sharp and twisted sense of humor. There really isn’t anyone out there who makes movies like Tim Burton, and if there’s anyone who can make a nightmare seem like a dreamscape, he’s the guy for the job.

It also helps that the songs are really good and so are the all the actors, which is pretty impressive considering that no one in this movie is really known for their singing abilities, nor have any of them ever been in a musical before as far as I know. Johnny Depp is a cool mofo and a good actor to begin with, so it’s no surprise that he gets it done here as Sweeney, and it doesn’t hurt that he’s done a good 30 other movies with Tim Burton either. Helena Bonham Carter, who I’ve never really cared that much for one way or the other, is good here too as the lady who runs the meat pie shop, and it doesn’t hurt that she’s married to Tim Burton. But the biggest surprise here is actually Sacha Baron Cohen as Sweeney’s rival in the shaving field, and it doesn’t hurt that he was probably chomping at the bit to play someone other than Borat for once. You know what, nothing about this movie hurt for anyone involved.

The only drawbacks I can think of for this are that it doesn’t really have that Tim Burton visual flair to it like, say, Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands have, and the movie kind of fizzles out in the final Act, ending on a total bummer of a note. But when it comes to musicals, in particular musicals about homicidal maniacs, Sweeney Todd is a breath of fresh air. Might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I’d recommend you drink up, folks.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. mcarteratthemovies permalink
    September 28, 2009 3:11 pm

    I’m just going to say it: If I have to watch a musical, I want carnage, I want blood, I want throats to be slit by a guy whose hairdo makes Russell Brand’s look tame and tidy! And in “Sweeney Todd” I got exactly what I wanted. No, it’s not a perfect movie — Johnny Depp’s not a GREAT singer by any stretch — but the look of it is brilliant, and Bonham-Carter and Depp work well together. Alan Rickman and Sacha Baron Cohen and Tim Burton at the helm just sealed the deal for me.

    • September 28, 2009 4:04 pm

      Geez, I totally forgot to include Alan Rickman in the review. I am ashamed.

  2. September 28, 2009 5:45 pm

    this is actually one of my favorite musical-to-film adaptations. One thing I dig about it is how dark it is: all those blacks, blues, and greys…a stage show can’t do something like that because the actors would disappear into the shadows.

    You mentioned the violence. For me, one of the most violent details was a rather simple change from the classic story. Usually Sweeney would tilt the chair forward, sending the victims to the cellar as if going down a slide. When Burton made the chair tilt backwards, and thus disposed of the bodies head first, it made me cringe everytime.

    There was something about the *crunch* when they landed that made me wince.

    Great review by the way – case you’re curious, this is what I thought back when I watched it.

    • September 28, 2009 6:16 pm

      Thanks, man. That whole “crunching” thing actually had me cracking up, kind of sums up how Tim Burton made this movie work so well.

Drop that knowledge!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: