Sweeney Todd

By Mark Ramsey | 2007/12/21

“If the music’s good, I’m going to get the CD.”

That’s what the stranger next to me said to all around as the lights dimmed and Sweeney Todd began.

Well would you like me to call ahead to Wal-Mart and have one ready for you? Should I alert TMZ so they can have a camera crew waiting at the checkout? Would you be interested in selling your story to the Enquirer? Should I stand by to engrave your further musings on a plaque for NASA’s next interstellar spacecraft?

Up comes the first scene, and a character bursts into song.


“Oh my God, they start right off with that,” said a guy behind me.

Sir, what part of “musical” do you misunderstand? Were you expecting a drumroll first? You with your medley of Coke-sipping and popcorn-crunching! At least this movie is accompanied by an orchestra rather than a pocket full of Gaviscon.

Back to the movie….

We’re in a washed out, desaturated Olde London, full of well-shaven men and the heaving bosoms they shave well for.

It’s a London where meat is evidently baked into a pie, a concept unappetizing even before contemplating the source of that meat.

Johnny Depp sings! Mostly to his razors! They are his “friends,” and with friends like these, who needs razors? Personally, I have never sung a love song to my razor, although I did hoist a boom-box over my head and crank Peter Gabriel’s In Your Eyes to my pomade once back in 1989.

But who didn’t?

Depp’s Sweeney is the “demon barber of Fleet Street.” His patrons meet a premature and ignominious end. “I ain’t much for repeat business,” said Sweeney, “nor word-of-mouth.”

Surprise! There’s Helena Bonham Carter!

In a Tim Burton movie!

What are the odds you could be both the main squeeze of the director and perfect for the part in every one of his recent films? “It was an incredibly hard part to cast,” said Burton. “We scoured thousands of head shots the world over before I noticed the actress who was threatening not to share my bed.” Times is hard, sir, and so is casting!

Helena’s fine, but she’s no Angela Lansbury. Yes, the inquisitive and genteel J.B. Fletcher chewed up the stage in that role, but Helena is more of a stage-nibbler – and she nibbles with an extended pinkie finger, at that.

Together, Tim Burton and Johnny Depp achieve the impossible: Bringing Stephen Sondheim to the masses. Said Sondheim himself, “Next up, the Sunday in the Park with George video game – because gamers and pointillism go together like Lynne Spears and parenting skills!”


There’s the great Alan Rickman, Britain’s answer to William Shatner, who brings a little Professor Snape to all his roles – whether you want it or not. He’s in pants so tight you don’t need 3-D to see signs of genitals – unfortunately, you need genitals to see signs of genitals.

Johnny has a daughter, Joanna, who has a boyfriend even prettier than she is. “I need her!” this young suitor says. “Her dresses are more fabulous than my own.” But she is locked up by Rickman, who doesn’t approve of this lad and has him beaten to within an inch of his life – and a half inch of a love ballad.

I say anyone who chooses to sing after a pounding needs a more comprehensive pounding. If everyone who got their butts kicked would burst into song pro wrestling would have a string section.

Sweeney Todd is good, and the more I see it the more I like it. I am crazy for any concoction from Tim Burton, and this one doesn’t disappoint.

Sweeney is my favorite cannibal musical ever…

…with barbers.

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More about this movie at AskMen.com


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