Hit Me with Your Best Shot: Death Becomes Her

You guys might not know but black comedies and I don’t mix very well. No matter the skill involved they nearly always seem more mean-spirited and ugly than funny. The worst movie I’ve ever seen is a black comedy Drop Dead Gorgeous- one of 2 films I have walked out of in my life (on a date no less!). So it is perhaps this reason that kept me away from the 1992 cult classic Death Becomes Her. However, this week it was selected by Nathaniel over at Film Experience as the Hit Me With Your Best Shot pick, and I decided to give it a shot.

Directed by Robert Zemeckis, Death Becomes Her is a ghost story combined with a critique on Hollywood, celebrity and female body obsession. It stars Meryl Streep, Bruce Willis and Goldie Hawn with Isabella Rossellini adding revealing supporting work.

Meryl Streep is Madeline Ashton, an actress who is obsessed with her image and fading career. Goldie Hawn is Helen Sharp, her wantabe writer rival who is engaged to Bruce Willis’ Ernest Menviille, a plastic surgeon. All of these 3 actors are hamming it up big time from the beginning and there are a lot of good diva lines for Hawn and Streep.

Streep seems to be having a particularly good time playing someone so deliciously narcissistic and vapid. You almost have the feeling she’s known many such women that she is basing the character off of. Madeline ends up stealing Ernest from Helen and the two women play cat and mouse with each other until spoiler alert they both die but only after having drunk an elixir of youth given to them by Rossellini.

It is after the death where we get the body-bending special effects that won an Oscar for the film in 1992. These effects do look a little dated but honestly that is part of its charm- sort of like watching an old movie from the 30s with hokey special effects.

I’m trying to put a finger on why this black comedy worked for me and films like Drop Dead Gorgeous don’t. It could just be Meryl Streep is that good and it could be some genuinely funny writing by Martin Donovan and David Koepp. I’m not sure. Humor is an odd thing in that regard. Sometimes you can’t explain why certain things make you laugh and others don’t.

It’s funny because of all the useless remakes we have gotten over the years (I’m talking to you Ghostbusters and Ben Hur…) Death Becomes Her is screaming for a remake. I kept thinking of all the stuff you could do with reality tv and our image conscious society now that you didn’t have back in 1992. There is so much more the script could poke fun at and of course the special effects could be improved upon.

I should mention that Bruce Willis is very funny in a non-John McClane role we rarely see. He’s been such a lazy actor of late that it was fun to see him trying.

With all the nonsense, the film does have something to say about life and what really makes someone last forever, and I thought that was nice. But when I am picking a best shot I went with the scene that made me laugh the hardest. Ernest has supposedly taken the eternal serum and Streep’s Madeline looks at him and says ‘My God he still looks like Hell…’ That made me laugh so that’s my shot.

death becomes her best shotThis film does have more nudity than I was expecting just to warn my more conservative readers.

7 thoughts on “Hit Me with Your Best Shot: Death Becomes Her

  1. I like the movie, but I can watch it because of the last five minutes. The thing with the heads just gives me nightmares.

    But yeah, it has a great message, which makes all the difference in stuff like this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You walked out of a film! It is your duty as a film critic/buff to torture yourself. As a person once said you have to get through norm of the north to appreciate Casablanca. That was a stupid example but you get what I mean.

    Like

    1. I do get what you are saying. I’ve only walked out of 2 movies in my life and both were when I was in my early 20s. I wouldn’t now that I have a channel/blog. The thing with both of the movies I walked out of they were mocking Jesus and that’s a line you don’t cross with me. Now I just wouldn’t see the offensive film in the first place. I do a lot more research than I used to do on screenit.com and other parental guide sites so I know what to avoid.

      Like

      1. Ah, now if there’s a personal reason then I completely understand. I for example won’t see a film with the KKK or nazis unless it’s really serious about the subject.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t like this film. I will admit that Meryl Streep as great as always and the effects are astounding for the time period but the story is a mess, the writing hardly ever gets a laugh and it seems like the director’s just rushed the film.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The actresses made me laugh and sold it but the plot is kind of a mess so I get what you mean. Will watch your review

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s