Using satire to explore some rather intriguing issues, Death Becomes Her is above all a really well-crafted movie. Sure, it can get a bit surreal and silly at times, but exactly that is what makes it so special. It explores themes of immortality, beauty, and aging in a very approachable way. The script is intelligent and witty adding to the vibrant atmosphere of this surprisingly PG-13 fantasy movie. I say surprisingly because one of the scenes that stuck with me over the years is the one where Goldie Hawn ends up with a gaping hole in her stomach! It also can be found in some versions of the posters as they thought it’s pretty good.
This brings us to the special effects that still look decent. Zemeckis is always pushing the boundaries of what’s possible so it’s nice to see him continuing this tradition here. Remember, he came to the set of this movie after finishing the Back to the Future trilogy. And his next project was freaking Forest Gump. Although, if we’re dropping names, I think his best movie by far is Contact based on a novel by Carl Sagan. I also have to mention writer David Koepp who went on to make such movies as Jurassic Park and Mission: Impossible.
As you figured from the title, Death Becomes Her is a black comedy with a mainstream vibe to it. That mainstream vibe is perhaps the reason behind the hate that some of the critics and fans have vented throughout the years. The story is unfolding in a posh Los Angeles neighborhood following the lives of rich and famous people. This may seem a bit disconnected from the everyday reality most of us live but there’s a reason why the focus is on them. First of all, who doesn’t like trashing spoiled celebrities? Secondly, looks are incredibly important in that world and this fits in so well with the main story. And finally, this setting enables us to escape our dreary reality and see that the lives of the rich and famous are also fucked up.
Madeline and Helen are old-time rivals in everything, from men to beauty. When time began to take its toll on their bodies, they became desperate. Of course, a magical potion will help them, or will it?
I just loved action star Bruce Willis as a clumsy and lost surgeon, he really showed that he can play diverse roles. Plus, it was nice to see a movie where you had naturally strong female characters and not this forced empowerment they’re forcing down our throats now. Although the effects were at the time mind-boggling, the main thing about this flick is the universal story of eternal life, happiness, and all the other fun stuff seen through the satire of rivalry and love. I also cannot forget Isabella Rossellini. Mostly because she is half-naked the whole flick. And you simply know that Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn are going to nail their roles. So everything just works in Death Becomes Her.
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Cast: Meryl Streep, Bruce Willis, Goldie Hawn, Isabella Rossellini, Nancy Fish, Michelle Johnson
Fun Stuff: Meryl Streep wore a pneumatic bra to achieve the effect of her breasts rejuvenating after drinking the potion. However, that didn’t look realistic enough. Instead of using the bra, her dresser stood behind her and push her breasts into position, with his hands off-camera.