Sweeney Todd

Movie version is dark, bloody


In the lobby of Sawmill Theatres, I had the chance to ask four teenage girls what they liked best about "Sweeney Todd."

They answered in unison "Johnny Depp."

I chose not to ruin the moment by telling them that he is 43 years old and has two kids.

Long before hitting the big screen "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" (music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim) was a Broadway musical winning three Tonys in 1979.

Director Tim Burton's "Sweeny Todd" is darker and bloodier.

The story opens with a ship docking in an English port with two men departing: A young sailor named Anthony (Jamie Campbell Bower), who is accompanied by an older passenger called Sweeney Todd (Johnny Depp).

Todd is returning to a town where many years ago, people knew him as Benjamin Barker. He was married to Lucy (Laura Michelle Kelly.)

They had a baby daughter and he was very content with his life as a barber.

The unscrupulous Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman) lusted after Lucy, so he arranged for bogus criminal charges against Barker.

The judge sentenced Barker to prison.

Rather than succumb to a life with Judge Turpin, Lucy poisons herself.

The Barkers' young daughter Johanna (Jayne Wisener) becomes the Judge's ward.

Todd's first stop on Fleet Street is Mrs. Lovett's (Helen Bonham Carter) meat pie shop.

He learns from Mrs. Lovett, the fate of Lucy and Johanna.

Revenge consumes Todd. He decides he will return to barbering using the room above the pie shop.

Todd outfits his barber chair to tilt back so following a shave that is much too close, the dead patron can be deposited through a trap door which leads to the cellar.

Realizing a fringe benefit in this debacle, Mrs. Lovett begins using new ingredients in her meat pies.

At some point in the movie, I actually lost count as to how many customers of the demon barber met their fate with slashed throats and gushing blood. A new meaning to the word grisly came into play.

I might have felt more sympathy for Barker aka Todd if the director had devoted time for dialogue between Barker and his wife.

On a brighter note, the music was enjoyable with one song ("Johanna") a particular standout.

Depp's voice added nicely to the success of the soundtrack, however, I don't think he will win any American Idol contests.

Already this movie has won a Golden Globe for Best Picture and Best Actor, as well as Depp receiving a Best Actor nomination from the Academy Awards.

My prediction: people will either rave about "Sweeny Todd," or feel two hours of their lives were wasted.

I would fall into the latter category.

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