No town is perfect—unless that town happens to be a model town.
Beetlejuice opens with a long shot panning over an idyllic small New England town. It's only at the end of that shot that we realize the whole town was fake. We were in Adam Maitland's model the whole time.
Adam's model is a labor of love for him and comes into play over the course of the story.
- Betelgeuse takes up residence there.
- Then Charles and Otho use it for their presentation to Maxie Dean.
- Finally, Adam gets transported into the model and uses one of the cars to ram Betelgeuse's foot to distract him during his quickie wedding to Lydia.
The model town is a symbol of Adam's love for Winter River. He built a model of the town to capture it just the way it is. Contrast that to Charles and Delia, who see a town that's ripe for commercialization. From the moment they set foot in the door, they're both thinking about ways they could make the town more upscale, cosmopolitan, and profitable.
Betelgeuse finds the town a total bore. Fortunately for him, something more interesting suddenly appears.
BEETLEJUICE: I'm feeling a little, uh, anxious, if you know what I mean. It's been about 600 years, after all. I wonder where a guy, an everyday Joe like myself can find a little action.
WOMAN: Come on. Come on in.
BEETLEJUICE: Oh, yeah, here I come, baby. Oh yeah. Hey, Adam, nice move!
BARBARA: Adam, why did you build that?
ADAM: I didn't
Okay, so Juno technically added the Dante's Inferno whorehouse, but still. Betelgeuse's mere presence really changes things in this quaint New England model. "Progress" is clearly in the eye of the beholder.