todd on todd...

I was able to catch a screening of Sweeney Todd tonight and I am happy to report it's not Planet of the Apes, but it certainly isn't an Edward Scissorhands or even Ed Wood.

Tim Burton has taken what I consider to be the greatest musical ever written and turned it into a blood bath of a horror film with songs. He has peppered his film with an amazing cast, but they perform each of their roles as corpses. When they do break into Sondheim's brilliant score, it's almost as if it's a huge bother to the characters. There is never a lack of awkwardness, with the very big exception of Sasha Baron Cohen's hysterical Signor Adolfo Pirelli.

Now, about that score, or should I say the lack there of it? I can understand where a film has to take liberties with a Broadway show for the purposes of adaptation. Sweeney Todd is the first musical adaptation in my recollection that chooses not just to cut numbers (and predictably at that), but to also have the nerve to cut out the lyrics of songs completely. Instead we get instrumental renditions of "The Tale of Sweeney Todd" and a version of "God That's Good," without the actual lyrics "God That's Good" even sung!

I could be wrong about this, but I'm pretty sure purists will be horrified, but even worse, anyone not familiar with the show is being cheated, not treated, on the full impact of the numbers.

As a movie, technically, the film works well. The casting pays off in great performances. The production design is pure Burton. The costumes are a whole new world of fun.

As a musical, Sweeney Todd is a bloody mess.