Death Becomes Her ★★★½

A great example of the wonderful late-90's/early-2000's era of FX, when CG was used expressively and vibrantly without trying to make everything look realistic or detailed; when people used CG as a tool for imagination that was made weirder by it's limitations. I mention this first as it's the biggest praise I can give the movie. Although I don't know how technically impressive the effects were at the time (i.e. if they really warranted an Oscar win or not), I absolutely love the Mask-esque rubbery CG mixed with practical effects on display here. From Streep lumbering around with an awkward twisted head to Goldie and the more convincing cartoon body-hole, the grotesques on display here are a joy to watch.

So much of the enjoyment of the movie hinges on Zemeckis' directing style, which will either hook you or immediately turn you away. Subtlety is not on the menu here, especially when we are treated to "fatsuit monster cat lady" within the opening act. I did enjoy the increasing absurdity as Goldie is dragged from her couch by the police re-watching Streep's movie death over and over; the manic tone of it was much more up my alley. After being so used to Zemeckis wallowing in creepy mocap it's interesting to see that translate to live action. Weird Gilliam-like shots and bulging lens mix with a Tales From The Crypt visual style; with lots of bright colors and moody lighting.

In terms of the humor, the more morbid slapstick was preferable to the epidemic of "yelling a lot takes the places of jokes" routine. This is mainly where the movie would lose me; although I didn't find Bruce Willis's frantic yelling that annoying it wasn't really funny. Zemeckis also seems to have a strange reliance on re-using jokes in this in a way I assume he thought was clever that instead comes off as lazy. The "hanging on to the top of the stairs by the end of your feet" routine is used 3 times, once effectively as Streep dies the first time but then just for a cheap joke. This of course leads me to the ending, possibly one of the most anticlimactic endings I've seen. Even though this is ostensibly a comedy it feels like many core issues in the story weren't addressed or resolved in any way, as if the story had been structured right up to near the end of the third act but there wasn't a good cap or point to end the movie on. Despite the dodgy script and some over-zealousness, this is some wonderful over-the-top cheese that I loved more than I expected.