Burton and Depp Need a Break

Back in the 1990’s a young filmmaker named Tim Burton and a young actor named Johnny Depp collaborated on a movie that would change their lives, Edward Scissorhands. The film has become a fantasy classic beloved by a whole generation. A couple of years later they followed it up with the ode to the cult classic director, Ed Wood, creating another critically acclaimed film in the process. But most movie fans would agree, that after eight films, it is time for the two take a break from each other. I remember a while back when I was writing an article on the movies that have defined Tim Burton, that despite the fact that he is an active director who releases films on a regular basis, the last great film he made was a decade ago with Big Fish, the last movie he made without Johnny Depp.

Whereas they began their partnership with memorable and much loved flicks, their most recent collaborations have been the very definition of mediocre; Alice in WonderlandCharlie and the Chocolate Factory, Dark Shadows all lacked the creativity and originality that their past collaborations had. True they had the look of the standard Tim Burton movie, but they lacked the heart he used to bring to his films. The time has come for Tim Burton to challenge himself, Burton built his reputation on making quirky movies that were drastically different from what anybody else was making, but what was once daring has become a trademark. Whenever people hear of a new Tim Burton movie they automatically realize that it will star Johnny Depp in a silly costume and that Helena Bonham Carter will pop up somewhere.

The Burton/Depp duo have worked together so much that they have become TOO comfortable with each other and their methods of working. They do not seem to challenge each other to be better but rather indulge each other in their passion projects, knowing they can at least make some money off the merchandise from the movie that will fly off the shelves at Hot Topic. It’s the idea that one should not work with their best friend, sure it is awesome for the friends, but unless something is keeping them on course, they will inevitably do their own thing without any regard to the work at hand. Perhaps these two best friends need a break from each other, they can maintain their friendship, but they can also pursue different projects and grow as artists. I have nothing against directors and actors frequently working with each other such as; Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale as well as Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio, but in those collaborations the end result tends to be a film of great ambition and not a pseudo parody of an old soap opera made only because a member of the duo has always wanted to play a particular character.