I guess there are no hard feelings that Tim Burton will be working with Jim Carrey in the upcoming Ripley’s Believe It or Not movie – the director and his longtime leading man Johnny Depp are looking at working together a sixth time, adapting Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
This, to me, is a terrible idea, and on a couple of levels. First of all, Depp can’t play Todd – the character is much older and creepier than any studio exec would ever allow Depp to be. But even if Depp is allowed to get rid of his good looks, Burton’s the wrong director for the project. I’ve never seen a serious Tim Burton movie – they’re all campy and slightly self-parodying, and Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, while containing humor, is really a horror melodrama. It’s easy to assume that a musical about a barber who slits the throats of his customers and teams up with his landlady to turn their bodies into cheap meat pies must be a black comedy, but the story – based on reality – is done up fairly straight, all things considered. I don’t think Burton could do that. He would be too tempted to give in to the high Hammer camp of his dreadful Sleepy Hollow.
The official announcement on this is expected in a few weeks. It’s not the first time Burton has tried to make this show into a film, but I thought that the movie was firmly in Sam Mendes’ hands. Maybe if Jarhead had done better he’d still be on it. There’s a script by John Logan right now, but it’s unclear if Burton will start over from scratch. My bet is that he will.