Movie-Hype (#750) - SLEEPY HOLLOW
It must be said at some point--so I am saying it right up front--that Tim Burton's SLEEPY HOLLOW takes several hard left turns from Washington Irving's beloved story. Purists might object. Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is a time-honored classic, and might make a wonderful film adaptation. I won't ague the point.
However, a faithful rendition of Washington Irving's spooky tale would not--could not--come from Tim Burton, and friends, let me tell you: we are lucky the demented madman came aboard.
SLEEPY HOLLOW takes place in 1799, the dawn of a new age, where men turn to science for answers, not superstition. At least, that's Ichabod Crane's hope. a reform-minded man, Crane is the police officer sent to investigate the strange spate of deaths in Sleepy Hollow, New York. Johnny Depp plays Crane, and all of theoriginal personality ticks are there. Squeamishness at the sight of blood. Belief in science over spirits. A strange appearance. Um....a demeanor so sissified, that even back in ol' Washington Irving's day they had to be thinking, yup, he's a cake boy.
However, while a gay Ichabod Crane might lead some to conceive of Sleepy Hollow pornographic titles (sadly, I decided to cut the fifteen I came up with), our Ichabod isn't fruity, just very shy. And given to womanish screaming. And he faints.
Come to think of it, that's pretty much the definition of any male scientist.
I'm wasting time, so let me get to the point: SLEEPY HOLLOW works really well as a Halloween movie. Shockingly well. The story isn't wildly original, as it comes from a veryfamiliar source, and even the veer into the supernatural is fairly straight-forward. And we've all seen a period piece of a small town with secrets to hide.
But dammit, I don't care. SLEEPY HOLLOW is just awesome, and I won't say otherwise.
Johnny Depp gives another great performance, quirky as always, but fresh and new. However, my second favorite part of the movie is Christina Ricci's Katrina Van Tassel. The acting is fine and all, but I just cannot get over the way she looks. It haunts me, and I am mesmerized.
(Truly: every time SLEEPY HOLLOW comes on TNT I end up watching 30 minutes or so, AND HYPERION HATES EDITED MOVIES ON CABLE, if only to see Ricci's Katrina.)
The side characters really work too, with perennial historical favorite Jeffrey Jones, as well as Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon, Count Dooku and Emperor Palpatine and Darth Maul! (Okay, the actors who play all three, but how cool/weird is that?) The idiot Starship Trooper Casper Van Dien even shows up, for the bizarre reason that he's related to the real-life Van Tressels. (While true, I don't know if that's the real reason he was cast. However, while you would never willingly pick Casper, he does great at being schmucky, which is his job.)
I mentioned my second favorite part of the movie is Ricci. This is because my favorite part (mine and everybody else's), is the headless horseman himself. Let me say: he does not disappoint.
While you can find the actor on IMDB, I encourage you not to. See the film without knowing who you are looking at. When it all finally comes together, it makes more sense than peanut butter and chocolate.
I'm all over the map here, so let's bring it home. SLEEPY HOLLOW isn't Shakespeare. The acting is great, but in a monster movie kind of way. That's not why you're watching. You show up to see if they bring the Scary, and they do. Plenty of chills. Some great stunts too. (Depp does all his own, which you'll appreciate more at the end). Great makeup, which I almost never mention, but here it's almost a character. And there's a romance, albeit with the world's wimpiest leading man.
It's hard to say why one likes one movie but not another. A few minutes ago I wrote a review for SWEENEY TODD, which basically disappointed me, as did ED WOOD. Both featured Depp and Burton. On the other hand, I'd sing a song about EDWARD SCISSORHANDS. SLEEPY HOLLOW isn't quite that good, but it strikes me much the same way. I just enjoy the hell out of it.
Suspension of Disbelief Index: Uh, we're talking Tim Burton here. 10.
Genre Grade: I wouldn't really call SLEEPY HOLLOW a horror film, but it's definitely a Scary Movie, and by that standard I'd give it an A- to an A.
Objectionable Material. Somewhat to my surprise I notice SLEEPY HOLLOW is Rated R. It could be all the bastardized viewings on cable. I'm going from memory here. There are 18beheadings , but it's fairly theatrical. I don't recall any over-the-top scariness, but the entire film is creepy, so I would absolutely not let kids watch this. Middle School is up to the folks, but high school and up should be plenty safe.
DVD material? Mostly about the production, which is fairly complicated, so you may be quite interested.
Pantheon Percentile: Because of the stylized look, SLEEPY HOLLOW should never be outdated. I can see putting it on the yearly Halloween rotation. 88.