Only Tim Burton could have made such a loving, tender biopic about Ed Wood, aka “the worst director of all time.” Although it’s ostensibly about B-movie filmmaking in the 1950s, It’s primarily a story of an underdog’s determination in the face of adversity and repeated failure, so in some ways it’s not unlike “Rudy” only it’s presented like a 1950s Wood science-fiction movie, which is, let’s face it, absolutely adorable. Johnny Depp is pitch perfect in the title role: The cadence of his delivery as well as his dialogue (courtesy of a first-rate screenplay by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski) are so innocent, so pure-sounding and refreshingly devoid of subtext that you forget you’re even watching Depp. Similarly, Martin Landau is so eerily convincing as a spiraling, past-his-prime Bela Lugosi that his performance is inextricable from the late performer himself, while his tender friendship with Wood provides some of the movie’s best scenes. Additionally, not unlike a Quentin Tarantino effort, the period detail is extraordinary while the black-and-white cinematography is gorgeous and crisp, all of which is perfectly accented by Howard Shore’s playful, memorable score, which recalls Danny Elfman’s work without being a second-rate facsimile of it. Add in a fascinating supporting cast that includes plum roles for Sarah Jessica Parker, Patricia Arquette and Bill Murray (among many others), and the whole thing becomes a tender, heartfelt delight.
Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)