Aesthetically and conceptually strong, and so unusual in both regards for 1988 that it attained minor classic status on those strengths alone. But as a narrative, it's a bit wobbly, with a hazily defined set of conflicts, rules, and motivations that put a damper on the set-design.
When I tell people I think this is one of the greatest films of all time they sort of cock their heads and look at me like my face is on fire. It's creepy, it's funny, and the art direction is beyond brilliant. When the house door opens and the sandworm twists across the screen, or when the staircase turns into a giant Beetlejuice snake?! Come on, it's so great! People who dismiss it as just for kids are missing out!
Much more entertaining now seeing it as an adult. The performances (namely Catherine O'Hara) were funnier than I remembered, also. Beetlejuice is reasonable flawed but it beats the hell out of anything Tim Burton has done lately. And if nothing else Johnny Depp isn't in it and that's good enough for me.
I wish Tim Burton could recapture the sense of fun and play his early films had, this film being a prime example of that sense of wonder and play. Burton understood that Keaton was such a strong performer he should almost be utilized as a kind of special effect. Keaton exudes hilarious, twisted, rock star charisma as the "ghost with the most." The Calypso dance sequence is magic. A classic career high for Burton.