Frankenweenie (the movie)

Okay, I realize this isn’t an earth-shattering observation, but that Tim Burton guy is one creepy dude.  We liked his “The Nightmare Before Christmas” for its offbeat humor, but there were some really disturbing parts to the movie as well.  His newest movie, “Frankenweenie,” is both more and less disturbing but, on the whole, is as normal a movie as I’ve seen from him (mind you, this is not a high bar).

“Frankenweenie” pays homage to the original story  “Frankenstein” by Mary Godwin Shelley, to the Boris Karloff version of the movie, to Godzilla and its Japanese movie-makers, to the original “Mummy” movies and probably to many other horror movies that I didn’t recognize.

Victor Frankenstein is a young boy whose only friend is his dog, Sparky.  Sparky is accidentally killed by a car (this is quite traumatic if you are a dog lover, especially if you are a dog lover who is a child).  Inspired by a new science teacher, voiced by Martin Landau who is excellent, Victor brings Sparky back to life.  Chaos of varying types then ensues.

On the face of it, the plot unfolds in a very predictable way but because this is Tim Burton, you are never quite sure whether the predictable path is the actual path (and since it is a Tim Burton movie, the answer is it is not).  There are some excellent one-liners, but the quality of the movie depends on the whole and not any particular scene.  “Frankenweenie” is creepy and dark in many parts, but the grief Victor suffers when Sparky dies is well done.  The movie may be primarily a tribute to the horror movie genre, but it is also a movie about a boy and his dog, and the relationship between the two is the emotional crux for the entire movie.  It’s very well done.

The movie is rated PG, and Common Sense Media recommends it for kids 9 and over.  If you have a child who is visually sensitive or easily scared in the 9-11 year old range, I would wait until it comes out on DVD.  (The movie theatre screen makes the dark atmosphere more overwhelming.)

The movie is well worth seeing, especially if you have tweens or young teens.  Our entire family really liked the movie, despite (or maybe because of) the creepy dude.

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