ByAntonio Ferme, writer at
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Antonio Ferme

Hollywood is filled with an abundance of talented entertainers — directors, actors, actresses, singers — you name it. The stars who stand out brightest in the fluorescent night sky of Hollywood are the ones who have the most unique and intriguing style. For instance, Tim Burton is one of the most renowned directors in Hollywood due to his unique dark and gothic style and his critically applauded work.

But more recently, the filmmaker has taken his moody approach to more family-oriented fare.

Burton's Transition Into Family-Friendly Films

"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (2005).
"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (2005).

Burton's films of the '80s and '90s gave children nightmares and blew the minds of their parents. But at the turn of the century, there was a perceived shift in Burton's career. He began to depart from his more disturbing works and make more family-friendly movies starting with Big Fish in 2003. While this movie did include some Burton-esque elements, it was pretty offbeat from his previous efforts.

Big Fish is not a movie like Beetlejuice or Edward Scissorhands, where the imagery keeps kids awake all night. This Burton film is a very distinctly family-friendly that is emotionally powerful. Now, Big Fish isn't a bad movie in the least, but audiences at the time were expecting a much different movie from the filmmaker, given his work up to that point.

But history would show that Big Fish and its tone was not a one-time deal from Burton. Family-oriented Burton films kept being released into theaters: Burton released a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory reboot in 2005 and then his own version of Alice of Wonderland in 2010. In 2012, Frankenweenie successfully managed to combine Burton's gothic and disturbing style from his earlier works with his modern tone. Now, we are right around the corner from seeing his latest effort hit theaters — Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children — though the source material suggests that this might be a return to nightmarish form for the filmmaker.

Growing up With Tim Burton's Family-Friendly Movies

The readers who regularly follow my articles would know that I am one of the younger writers here on Movie Pilot as I am turning 17 in less than a month. I didn't grow up during the days where Burton was putting out more of his dark and disturbing films. However, that doesn't mean those movies didn't have an impact on my childhood.

As a child, Tim Burton's movies stuck out like a stain on a white dress from a lot of other childhood films. Was it because they were better than all of the others? Not necessarily — it was because these movies opened my imagination wider than most other movies could.

I think out of all Tim Burton's family-friendly movies, I would have to say that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory impacted me the most. Big Fish was a movie I saw once and enjoyed, but it didn't leave as much of an impression on me as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory did. When Alice in Wonderland and Burton's other family films were released, I was a bit older. The way Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was crafted really caught my attention as a young child. This reboot of the classic adaptation of the famous novel is what my generation grew up with. It is as special to me as the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory from 1971 starring the recently deceased Gene Wilder is to previous generations.


What is your favorite "family-friendly" Tim Burton movie?

Just because Burton's more disturbing films weren't released during my lifetime doesn't mean I never watched them and they didn't have an impact on my adolescence. Beetlejuice, Batman, and the Burton-produced The Nightmare Before Christmas were all movies I came to love as a child and still appreciate today. It wasn't until I became a bit older and started to evolve into the huge movie fan I am now that I realized the man behind Charlie and the Chocolate Factory also made Beetlejuice.

I might have been 10 or 11 and I was browsing the Internet when I saw Tim Burton's name. I definitely recognized the iconic name but didn't really know too much about him. When I searched 'Tim Burton' on Google, I was amazed to see so many of my favorite movies created by the same guy.

What Caused Burton's Change?

We know that Burton's shift happened at the turn of the millennium — but the real question is why? There are many causes or events that could change the perspective of a filmmaker. These events usually happen in real life and translate over to their work. In this case, it may have been having children of his own.

Movie Pilot recently spoke with the director and when asked if having kids changed his approach to filmmaking, he said:

"I don't think it changed me, but it kind of reconnects you to the weirdness of life. When you're young, you see things always new. As you get into adulthood, I think you have a tendency to lose that a bit. When I had kids, they say the strangest, weirdest things that make me laugh. So I don't think it's changed me, but it's certainly reinvigorated me to reconnect with those strange feelings that you have."

What era of Burton did you grow up with? Discuss below!


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