I’ll cut to the chase, Tim Burton has done it again. Disney’s Frankenweenie, based on Burton’s previous short film of the same name, opens October 5, and it is a fantastical romp through the stresses, relationships, and learning curve of childhood. At the same time, the film serves as something of an homage to the classic horror film genre and Burton’s own distinguished career (but in a fun and modest way). Frankenweenie is a project of passion for Burton, and you can feel it.
Set in the modest town of New Holland, Frankenweenie tells the story of young Victor Frankenstein (Charlie Tahan) and his little dog Sparky. They are surrounded by a gallery of eccentric individuals full of small town pride, and, to a lesser extent, blissful ignorance (according to the wonderful speech by science teacher Mr. Rzykruski, voiced perfectly by Mr. Martin Landau).
Mr. Frankenstein urges his son, a science and film fanatic, to go outside and make friends via the team play of organized sport. Victor agrees, and momentarily excels — until the scene we all know is coming: Sparky dies.
And then, after some math and stuff, he’s alive! Yes, all of that scientific theory pays off and Victor is able to resurrect his faithful companion from the doghouse beyond the pale. Hilarity ensues.
The other kids find out about Victor’s success and decide to get creative with life and lightning, too. It’s like a fad. Then Mr. Whisker’s alphabet hits the fan, and it is up to Victor and Sparky to save the day, the town, and the hearts of everyone — actual hearts may vary.
Frankenweenie is sweet when it needs to be and funny when it wants to, but it is also sad, somewhat dark, and even scary for younger kids or those sensitive to such things as monsters and suspense. That said, I believe most children will be fine (you know your kids best, prep as needed) with the stop-motion creatures and their comical brand of 3D terror.
I give Frankenweenie two paws up.
See what I did there?
I attended the Hollywood premiere of Frankenweenie as a guest of Disney. All opinions are my own.
Photo courtesy of Disney