“Frankenweenie” is classic Tim Burton—weird and goofy. It riffs on the original “Frankenstein” movie as well as several others films.
Victor Frankenstein is a schoolboy in the town of New Holland, which looks amazingly like the town in “Edward Scissorhands.” Except in “Frankenweenie,” the houses are not pastel-colored, they are in black-and-white.
Victor’s science teacher, who looks like a character from a Don Martin cartoon in Mad magazine, demonstrates how electrical current can cause a dead frog’s legs to move. This inspires Victor to exhume his dog Sparky, recently killed when hit by a car, and use lightning to reanimate him.
When Victor’s friend Andrew, an Igor lookalike, spreads word of Victor’s success, the other kids in town then reanimate their deceased pets and havoc ensues.
“Frankenweenie” exceeds expectations with its clever characters, terrific animation, a decent story and a great sense of humor. The energy and tempo are more consistent here than in Burton’s “Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Corpse Bride.”
Unlike Burton’s previous stop-motion animated films, “Frankenweenie” is not a musical. The soundtrack is by Burton’s longtime music man, Danny Elfman.
Among favorite elements of “Frankenweenie” is Victor’s attic which functions as his lab, not unlike Dr. Frankenstein’s in the 1931 classic film. Also, some of the New Holland townsfolk look like they stepped directly out of a Gary Larson “Far Side” comic panel. The opening scene with Victor showing a movie he made (starring Sparky) is priceless. The science teacher’s response when a parents’ group attempts to chastise him is a wonderful piece of writing.
“Frankenweenie” is rated PG. Preschoolers will be bored by the movie, but most kids will, I think, like it. Adults who appreciate Tim Burton’s sensibilities will love it.
Personal note: I saw “Frankenweenie” less than 24 hours after my own dog died. I was concerned about seeing a movie about a dog being killed. But “Frankenweenie” entertained me and actually lifted my spirits a bit. It’s been a tough week. I miss my dear dachshund Princess. But I look forward to seeing “Frankenweenie” again soon.