Robert Zemeckis tries to be Tim Burton (or something) in this bizarro supernatural dark comedy in which Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn play longtime rivals who both end up taking a magic potion that supposedly grants eternal youth; when they’re both killed while fighting over the same nerdy mortician (Bruce Willis), the stuff revives them as the undead, keeping them alive even as they physically start to decay in some of the most gruesome (and goofiest) ways possible. The three actors are game (as is Isabella Rossellini as the wealthy socialite who hooks them up with the potion) and the Oscar-winning special effects are impressive, but Zemeckis — surprisingly enough — actually pulls his punches throughout, resulting in an awkward mess that’s only half as over-the-top as it should be; this gonzo material could’ve used a true madman like Burton or Terry Gilliam at the wheel in order for it to be more than just a curious footnote in the careers of everyone involved. It’s odd that Zemeckis, whose love of slapstick and cartoonish characterizations sabotaged some moments in the Back to the Future movies that called more for subtlety, seems so intimidated by this material — you’d think he would amp the silliness up to 11 instead of keeping it at a barely-registering 4.
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