Frankenweenie

Tim Burton’s stop-motion animated “Frankenweenie” is the story of a young boy whose dog gets killed when hit by a car. Young Victor doesn’t want to accept the fact that his dog is gone, however, and instead attempts something based on what he learned in science class… and winds up successfully bringing his dog back from the dead.

It’s obviously a very personal film for Tim Burton, you can feel the affection he had for this project pouring through. Even though it borrows from and contains many allusions to the classic monster movies of yore, it’s also his most original film in years. The character designs are all great, and the film that definitely has an abundance of heart and charm. While it doesn’t necessarily rise to the level of greatness, it’s a very enjoyable and unique film, and definitely worth checking out.

Young Victor Frankenstein (voiced by Charlie Tahan) is a bit of a loner. He doesn’t have any friends, and is happy to spend time making his amateur movies, or playing with his dog, Sparky. When his father talks him into playing baseball, tragedy ensues. His faithful dog is killed in the street.

Victor is crushed, of course. Despite the consolation of his parents (Martin Short, and Catherine O’Hara), he’s a despondent little boy. Shortly thereafter, though, his Eastern European science teacher Mr. Rzykruski (in a hysterical turn by Martin Landau) demonstrates that how an electric charge running through a dead frog can trigger muscular responses. That’s all Victor needs to hear. He sneaks off to the pet cemetery late at night, digs up his dog’s corpse, sneaks it home, and hooks it up to a homemade Frankenstein’s laboratory. When the experiment is a success, however, Victor is faced with an entirely new set of challenges… namely, keeping his re-animated dog a secret and fending off all his classmates who want to replicate his experiment.

This movie is loaded with easter eggs for fans of classic horror films, and of Tim Burton’s prior movies. Winona Ryder is even given a relatively meaningless, token voice role, and the neighborhood the boy lives in is remarkably similar to Edward Scissorhands’, amongst other things. There are tons of references and allusions to be found to classic monster films. When the experiment starts catching on around town and other sorts of creatures begin appearing, it’s madcap monster-filled fun. A wide variety of the classic monsters get parodied… from the mummy, to vampires, to Godzilla-sized Kaijus.

The character design is wonderful. Text book Tim Burton stuff. Everyone is twisted in some way, whether it’s big, unblinking eyes, a row of gangly buck teeth, or being so fat as to be completely round, each of the characters is unique looking in a slightly misshapen fashion. “Frankenweenie” also has that signature Tim Burton tone. It’s slightly morbid, and dark, but ultimately sweet. The boy’s necro-scientific experimentation is motivated by love for his dog, and that carries all the way through the film.

“Frankenweenie” really doesn’t have the most in-depth plot or anything, but given the combination of the wonderful animation, the unique tone, and the love that went into it shining through… it’s definitely a movie worth your time.

A-

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27 thoughts on “Frankenweenie

    • Yeah, you’ll like it then. I think anyone who likes the look of the trailer will enjoy the film.

      It’s a little sleight… not the weightiest thing in the world, exactly, but definitely very enjoyable. :D

  1. I was a bit sceptical about this. I wasn’t sure if Tim would be able to make his original idea fulfil its promise. Glad to see it’s getting decent reviews though. Sounds like the perfect light hearted Halloween entertainment.

    • Oh yeah, totally. If you’re looking for “Light Hearted Halloween Entertainment”, this fits that bill 100%.

      It was enjoyable. Very sweet and fun. At times a little creepy… I caught myself once or twice thinking… Disney is letting this grave digging… happen? LOL

      But very fun. Keep the expectations in line, but definitely check it out!

  2. Again we agree. Very enjoyable. I did see the original back in the day and it was good to see the expansion fitting so well in with the older material. 3D was also very good. Saw it with family and the grandchildren liked it.

    • Oh good. Thats good to hear.

      I was wondering a little how kids would take to it. There are, after all, notable segments involving a dog getting killed, said dog’s corpse, and then of course a re-animated dog. LOL

  3. Looks like we share the same thoughts again. I had a similar affection for this film in my review. And as I mention, I’m no big Burton fan.

  4. I’m not the biggest Burton fan, as you know, but I have to admit this one has looked like it might be fun. I think it probably helps that in this case it’s something that plays to Burton’s style, rather than having Burton’s style shoehorned in.

    • True.

      Of course, as YOU know, I am a pretty big Tim Burton fan, and I like his style quite a bit. You’re right, it feels very naturalistic here. The material is made for it and with it. The animation and the sweet but dark sensibilities are the biggest reason to recommend this movie to someone…

      It was fun, definitely.

  5. Took the family to see this. The kids liked it and my wife and I spent time trying to figure out the movie and horror references. Like the Vincent Price teacher and Bride of Frankenstein. I enjoyed the movie and the story was good. The 3D is probably one of the best I’ve seen to date as they are finally getting things down to where they don’t look like dioramas.

    • LOL. Yeah, a lot of 3D does suffer from that diorama effect, doesn’t it?

      Glad to hear that the kids liked it! I mentioned earlier that I wasn’t sure how children would take to it… there is some pretty morbid stuff in there. But from what I hear so far, they’re enjoying it, that’s awesome! :D

      Glad you dug it, man.

  6. Damn, good Tim Burton movie is something I haven’t seen in years. As a dog owner I’m certain I will love this one, plus it has Winona Ryder, horror refrences and the technique the film is made in just blows my mind – I can’t imagine how much work and time they put into making it.

    • I know, right? At the exhibit at Comic-Con, one of the attendants told me that it took like five weeks of shooting to get a minute of film or something ridiculous like that. They had to get several teams of animators working simultaneously in order to make the project in a reasonable time frame. Looks great though.

      Fair warning, hey. Winona’s part is really pretty unnecessary. Just sayin’.

      Check it out, sounds like you’re primed to enjoy it. I think you will, it was really pretty good!

  7. I thought this was well done, while not perfect it was entertaining. I missed a bit of this film and my brother had to keep elbowing me in the ribs when I started snoring. I made the mistake of doubling up on my allergy medicine so I could breath and then zzzzzzzz. ;-)

  8. I am still trying to get past the fact that this wasn’t an original concept…….there was “an original back in the day” ? haha My girls are big Tim Burton fans, I am sure they will want to catch this one. Glad it was worth seeing!

    • If you guys do see it, let me know what you think.

      It’s a remake of… his own short film… so it was his original idea way back when. Of course, it’s the frankenstein story applied to a family dog, so that needs to factor in to the originality equation, but yeah. :D

      It FEELS very unique and original, Deb, when you watch it. Trust me. :D

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