Coming out of left field today is the new possibility of a “Beetlejuice” sequel/reboot. You can read all about where this idea sprang from over at Deadline, which reports of a new development deal at Warner Bros for producers/writers David Katzenberg and Seth Grahame-Smith. The latter has worked with Tim Burton as screenwriter on “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” (adapted from his own novel) and the “Dark Shadows” movie, so they’ve got an in there. Not that the WB necessarily needs Burton’s approval, I’m sure, but it would be a good idea to have him involved at least as a producer.
What other good ideas could there possibly be? Allowing sex-crime-shamed actor Jeffrey Jones to reprise his role and be met with Paul Reubens-like forgiveness? Probably not his time just yet. How about a pantomime routine set to Lil Wayne’s “6 Foot 7 Foot”? Blasphemy! A dedication to Glenn Shadix? Please. 3D Sandworms? Obviously. But whatever the direction this proposed project goes in, I think the best thing would be to have an entirely fresh story involving none of the original’s characters except the titular ‘Ghost With the Most.’ Maybe Patrice Martinez can return as the fairy receptionist, too. Ah, if only Sylvia Sidney were still around.
To prove I am actually okay with this rumor (really that’s all it is, sadly), I’ve come up with five reasons “Beetlejuice 2” is not a bad idea — and may even be a pretty good one. Check out the list after the jump.
1. Michael Keaton would likely return as Betelguise. Some websites are speculating that Keaton would probably not be back for a sequel/reboot, but how could he refuse? It’s not as if his career is on fire right now, even with a lauded comeback-worthy performance in last year’s “The Other Guys.” Mostly he’s doing voice work, as the Ken doll in “Toy Story 3” and follow-up animated shorts. Plus, he even has stated that he’d love to return to the character. Dread Central quoted him during a “TS3” junket on the matter as claiming, “”Absolutely, that’s the one thing I’d love to do again.” He may be close to 25 years older, but if they bring artists Ve Neill, Steve LaPorte and Robert Short back to reprise the makeup work they won an Oscar for in 1989, nobody will be the wiser. Besides, the character is supposed to look decrepit anyway.
2. It could keep Bo Welch from directing another film. At first I wondered if Welch, who did wonderful production design work on the original “Beetlejuice” (where he presumably met his wife of nearly 20 years, Catherine O’Hara), might be invited to helm the sequel as his sophomore directorial effort. But nobody wants to see the Razzie-nominated man behind “The Cat in the Hat” adaptation directing anything else, even if that movie grossed more than $100 million (it’s domestic take was only about what it cost to produce). Since trying his hand at filmmaking, Welch has been back doing production design work for such films as “Thor” and next year’s “Men in Black III.” I think it would be fair to hire him only in the same position for “Beetlejuice 2.”
3. It won’t be “Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian.” I’m all for experimentation, but I can’t believe Burton once toyed with the absurd idea of making a mash-up of the beach movie genre and his playful, funhouse version of the German Expressionism style. First of all, regarding the former, didn’t he see his friend Pee-Wee Herman in the dreadful “Back to the Beach”? Yet the idea to bring the Deetz family and Betelguise to the tropic islands was in the works for a number of years and went into the hands of such screenwriters as Daniel Waters (“Heathers”) and Kevin Smith, who apparently wasn’t that into the idea of a Beetlejuice sequel at all (surprised he hasn’t tweeted a complaint about it). I guess it’s possible that Katzenberg and Grahame-Smith would work off that old Hawaiian-vacation-episode of an idea, but I doubt it. It could too closely evoke the Burton-produced “Cabin Boy” (which I love but few others do). More likely we’d get “Beetlejuice Takes Manhattan.”
4. It can’t do worse with the film’s continuity legacy than the “Beetlejuice” animated series did. Cartoons based on movies are the weirdest things ever. Sometimes they’re adapted from graphically violent R-rated films, which is odd enough, and other times they just completely abandon logic in terms of continuing the films’ storyline further. Mainly it seems to be common for ghostly villains to be turned good, as was the case for Slimer in “The Real Ghostbusters” and for Betelguise in an animated series that Burton was strangely okay with. In it Lydia is friends with Betelguise, in spite of them not being such at all in the end of the film, as if he were her imaginary friend or she were his sidekick or something. Of course, even while I understood in my youth it made no sense, I did enjoy the punny allusions employed in the ‘Neitherworld’ setting of most of the series’ episodes. What if the sequel was faithful to the cartoon and cast now-adult Winona Ryder as now-adult Lydia, and she’s brought back into that alternate dimension by her old, forgotten “friend”? Oh, fortunately that would be too much like the “Drop Dead Fred” redo in the works.
5. It’s not another remake. I may be one of the most staunch apologists for and supporters of remakes, but there is very little reason or relevance for a “Beetlejuice” redo. At least right now. And like “TRON” and other fantasy films there is so much more you can do with a sequel to this property given the possibilities of the imaginary world(s) it employs. Despite its continuity problem, the animated series at least showed us that much. But I don’t just mean it’s best that this property isn’t remade, it’s also best that Burton direct this and leave all his less-inspired remake dreams on hold, whether they be ideas for recycling classics or expanding on his own short works from decades back. I guess his one sequel, “Batman Returns,” isn’t much more beloved than his remakes, and many “Beetlejuice” fans will be disappointed with “Beetlejuice 2” no matter what. I’m actually optimistic that it could be better than, let alone faithfully as good as the original, much in the manner that the sequels to “Gremlins,” “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” and “Frankenstein” are improvements on their predecessors. How about they call it “New Batch of Brides of Beetlejuice’s Bogus Journey”? That sounds perfectly suited to the character, actually.