Death Becomes Her (1992)
Death Becomes a Pain for Willis, Hawn & Streep
Wrinkled, wrinkled little star... hope they never see the scars - Madeline
"Death Becomes Her" is a fun movie and has some very funny scenes as it delves deep into the rich area of looking young and living forever. But ultimately it ends up all sort of average as it bounds about a few funny scenes, some clever ideas but never really going anywhere. It's as if someone decided that vanity and the search for eternal youth was rich pickings for some dark humour but couldn't come up with a complete story to fit them into. So whilst "Death Becomes Her" has amusing performances from Goldie Hawn and Meryl Streep with Bruce Willis caught in the middle of the two and some amusing scenes it feels unfinished.
Helen (Goldie Hawn - HouseSitter) and Madeline (Meryl Streep - It's Complicated) have been rivals for years when it comes to men and when Madeline steals Ernest (Bruce Willis - Die Hard 2) from Helen things get even worse as she has a breakdown. Having recovered from her breakdown and years of excessive eating Helen is back, slimmer and sexier than ever ready to get revenge on Madeline and steal Ernest back. But with them both obsessed by looking good and keeping hold of their fading beauty they find themselves immortal and forced to be friends after they drink an elixir of eternal youth.
"Death Becomes Her" feels like a two part movie which is missing a third part making it feel incomplete. The first part builds up the rivalry between Helen and Madeline with Ernest being the prize stuck in the middle. It's sort of amusing especially as it throws in various digs about people looking old. The second part focuses more on the rich humour which can be found from people searching for ways to stay young whilst still keeping up the rivalry element. Again it's sort of amusing especially as it finds plenty of humour from the lengths people will go to to stay young.
But the thing is that whilst all of this sort of works as it provides plenty of humour and some funny scenes it feels unfinished. We get a fantasy element as Helen and Madeline discover the secret of eternal youth which comes with a cost but the pay off is left floating. It definitely feels like "Death Becomes Her" is a movie where the writers had a book full of jokes and funny scenes and then tried to develop a story around it. The effect of which is that whilst the movie finds an ending it still feels unfinished.
What though is enjoyable is the dark humour which flows through out "Death Becomes Her". Watching Helen and Madeline's bodies slowly falling to pieces with holes in them, broken necks and so on are highly amusing. And on that note some of the scenes which revolve around the special effects such as Helen sitting down with a wood handle going through the hole in her body is just marvellous. But it isn't enough to sustain a whole movie and whilst "Death Becomes Her" is a comedy, fantasy it becomes a little too stupid towards the climax.
As for the acting well you wouldn't say that "Death Becomes Her" was the best work from any of the stars and whilst each of them has their moment to shine it feels all a little mediocre. Goldie Hawn as Helen for the most seems to be struggling to find the comedy in her character until she dons a figure hugging red dress and we get a great 'Jessica Rabbit' moment as it shows off her assets. Meryl Streep is the same as she provides plenty of laughs in the scene following her fall down the stairs but other than that it feels all a little plain. And then there is Bruce Willis who seems to be struggling through out, trying to be funny as a boring bloke but failing to really get the laughs.
What this all boils down to is that "Death Becomes Her" is a fun movie but nothing more than an average one. It seems to be a movie written around gags and as such the storyline feels irrelevant and weak especially as it struggles to find a proper ending. But in the midst of the average ness which extends to the performances of Goldie Hawn, Meryl Streep and Bruce Willis it does have some seriously funny scenes rich in dark humour. It' just a shame that with the exception of a handful of scenes the rest is at its best just average.
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