A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
The director Tim Burton wages a valiant battle to show us new and wonderful things. In a Hollywood that placidly recycles the same old images, Burton uses special effects and visual tricks to create sights that have never been seen before. That is the good news. The disappointment is that Burton has not yet found the storytelling and character-building strength to go along with his pictorial flair.
That was true even of his "Batman," which was 1989's box office champion, but could have been a better film, I believe, if there had been anyone in it to inspire our emotional commitment. Even comic characters can make us care. Unlike Richard Donner's original "Superman," which actually had a heart beneath its special effects, Burton's "Batman" occupied a terrain in which every character was a grotesque of one sort of another, and all of their actions were inspired by shallow melodramatic motivations.
That movie was stolen by a supporting character - Jack Nicholson's Joker - and now comes "Edward Scissorhands," another inventive effort in which the hero is strangely remote. He is intended, I think, as an everyman, a universal figure like one of the silent movie clowns, who exists on a different plane from the people he meets in his adventures. One problem is that the other people are as weird, in their ways, as he is: Everyone in this film is stylized and peculiar, so he becomes another exhibit in the menagerie, instead of a commentary on it.
The movie takes place in an entirely artificial world, where a haunting gothic castle crouches on a mountaintop high above a storybook suburb, a goofy sitcom neighborhood where all of the houses are shades of pastels and all of the inhabitants seem to be emotional clones of the Jetsons. The warmest and most human resident of this suburb is the Avon lady (Dianne Wiest), who comes calling one day at the castle - not even its forbidding facade can deter her - and finds it occupied only by a lonely young man named Edward (Johnny Depp).