If Robert Zemeckis's mega-hit Forrest Gump was too sweet for your taste, you may enjoy the undiluted bitterness of his previous movie, a cynical black comedy that was ahead of its time. Death Becomes Her, an outlandish par... more »able about America's obsession with youth and vanity, exposes the corrosive side of Zemeckis's comic sensibility, the sort of scathing satirical edge he gleefully flourished in his overlooked 1980 Used Cars, which has developed a cult following. Meryl Streep has a ball as the deliciously vicious Madeline Ashton, a flamboyantly mannered actress who makes Bette Davis's formidable Margo Channing in All About Eve look like a wallflower. Goldie Hawn is also in razor-sharp comedic form as Madeline's long-time "best friend," Helen. Sensing a bargain she just can't resist, Madeline steals Helen's meek, plastic-surgeon husband Ernest (Bruce Willis) for her own convenience, and the two women become sworn enemies. But the real complications arise when the two are introduced to a secret anti-aging formula by a mysterious and exotic woman (Isabella Rossellini, delightfully ridiculous) that not only smoothes away wrinkles but actually guarantees immortality. As their undying bodies are twisted and mutilated by violent attacks on each other, both women grow increasingly dependent on Ernest for cosmetic repair. The pioneering digital effects inflicted on Streep and Hawn are as grotesque as they are imaginative and hilarious. Like James Cameron (The Abyss, Titanic), Zemeckis loves a technical challenge, and the new visual tools developed for this movie made his later work (in Forrest Gump and Contact) possible. --Jim Emerson« less
Jennifer D. (jennicat) from ST AUGUSTINE, FL Reviewed on 3/29/2014...
Funny. But I probably couldn't watch it over and over like some of the other movies.
Devilish, Wicked Black Comedy
Luis Hernandez | New York, New York, USA | 07/16/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Directed by the amazing Robert Zemeckis, "Death Becomes Her" features a clever script, an awesome cast, and mind-blowing special effects that most Hollywood films lack nowadays. The film centers on the eternal quest for beauty and youth by an aging Hollywood starlet, Madeline Ashton, (played by the brillant Meryl Streep). Her high school rival, Helen, (Goldie Hawn), brings her latest beau to meet Ashton after a campy performance in a musical based on "Sweet Bird of Youth" (get the theme already?).When Madeline runs off with Helen's fiance (Bruce Willis) Helen falls into a demented state and becomes obese and determined to get even with Madeline. After discovering a secret potion sold by a Hollywood witch (Isabella Rosellini) both Helen, and later Madeline regain their youth, vitality, and beauty. However, all this comes with strings involving immortality.The wonderful script pokes fun at many stereotypes, rumors, and realities Hollywood is well-known for. From plastic surgery to the fact that no one has never met a neighbor in Los Angeles, the script is intelligent scriptwriting at its' best. The special effects by Industrial Light and Magic which has Helen walking with a hole through her midsection, and Madeline walking with a twisted neck are incredible to watch. One thing I adored about this film was the wicked, dark, and diabolical score by Alan Silvestri that incorporates harps and vengeful theme throughout the film.The film's ending featuring a legion of Hollywood's undead (including Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, and James Dean)is hysterical and even the names of the two main characters, Madeline ("Mad" as in crazy) and Helen ("Hell" as in hellish) is genius. Personally along with "She-Devil," "Heathers," and "Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills," this film ranks as one of the best black comedies to come out in recent years. A must-see for everyone!"
Good Movie, But One DVD Issue
R. Whitney | 01/31/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Although the theatrical aspect ratio of this movie was 1.85:1, while the DVD aspect ratio is 4:3, this is not a "Pan&Scan" DVD. In other words, almost none of the original theatrical image has been removed for exhibition on a 4:3 television screen. The film negative aspect ratio was 1.37:1 (almost 4:3), and for theatrical exhibition, the image was "matted" (partially covered from the top down and bottom up) to produce a 1.85:1 image. For exhibition on a 4:3 television screen, the "mattes" have simply been removed. So the DVD exhibition actually shows 27.9 percent more image than the theatrical exhibition. The movie was likely filmed this way so that the theatrical image wouldn't be butchered on television by the "Pan&Scan" process, and because the filmmakers didn't foresee the current state of the home video market, where consumers prefer movies presented in their theatrical aspect ratio, rather than in a ratio in which the image will fill up their 4:3 television screen (if there is a difference). This DVD presents the movie in the aspect ratio in which the filmmakers wanted people to see it on a 4:3 television, but it does not present the movie in the aspect ratio in which the filmmakers wanted people to see it in a movie theater (for that, the DVD would have to present the movie in a "matted widescreen" format). If you're okay with that, enjoy!"
A TERRIFIC MOVIE THAT WARRANTS A WIDESCREEN RELEASE ASAP!
Wayne Racine | 08/28/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is a real hoot, with Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn embroiled in a Bette Davis/Joan Crawford-type feud... the plot was pure genius and the special effects were ahead of their time. With terrific performances by all the leads, this one is an "essential video" for your collection."
Gary F. Taylor | Biloxi, MS USA | 06/27/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The passage of time weighs upon us all: the loss of youth's energy, agility, beauty. But let us say there is a potion, an elixir, "a touch of magic in a world obsessed with science." Drink it and you will be forever young. Do not drink it and watch yourself rot away with old age. Just such a potion falls into the hands of two women who are not only consumed with vanity but fierce rivals, determined to best each other no matter the cost. Siempre Viva: Live Forever! Whether you like it or not!With excellent performances, an invective-laced script, and remarkable special effects, DEATH BECOMES HER takes on several great philosophical and literary concepts--and subverts them into one of the most wickedly funny black comedies in recent memory, dishy, bitchy, mean spirited, and a tremendous amount of fun. Film buffs will particularly relish this film, which references everything from THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW to THE WIZARD OF OZ and a host of classic horror films such as FRANKENSTEIN, THE MUMMY, and CAT PEOPLE--and also tacks in everything from Tennessee Williams plays to rock legend Jim Morrison for good measure.Unfortunately, the DVD release is commonplace, offering the film in pan-and-scan only. To give the release its due, the shift from widescreen to pan-and-scan is expertly done and not in the least distracting--but still, a widescreen option for such a special effects heavy film would be preferred. And while this would seem to be an ideal film for a making-of documentary, the DVD offers only a handful of production notes as bonus. Even so, the film is so extremely well done that I wouldn't miss it on that account! Recommended.GFT, Amazon Reviewer"