I will confess that I wasn’t super excited to see Frankenweenie, even though Tim Burton’s movies (as well as Disney films) are usually great. It’s completely in black and white and the little kid with the weird teeth in the previews for it (who we later find out is named Edgar “E” Gore – get it?) was more than a little creepy. Now, however, I completely take back my earlier sentiments, as Frankenweenie was not only unique, but intriguing as well.
Victor (voiced by Charlie Tahan) doesn’t have many friends; in fact, his best friend is his dog, Sparky. Victor wants to enter the school science fair, but his dad (Martin Short) makes him a compromise: he can do the fair as long as he joins the baseball team as well. During his first game, Sparky gets loose from where he’s tied to a post, and runs into the street after the ball, getting fatally hit by a car. Victor is distraught until his new science teacher (Martin Landau) shows the class how all dead animals have “muscle memory,” which gives him an idea; he decides to try to bring Sparky back to life.
The experiment works, surprisingly, and Victor is overjoyed; at least until Edgar (Atticus Shaffer), the other class “weirdo,” finds out what he did, and demands Victor to teach him how to bring a dead animal back to life. Later, some of their classmates find out Victor’s secret too, and they all want to get in on the “resurrection” business so that they can win the school science fair … but their experiments don’t work quite as well as Victor’s did.
I started revising my thinking at the beginning of the movie, when the typical blue Disney castle came up and then immediately turned to black and white; an omen of what was yet to come. Be advised that this movie is not for younger children; I would say it’s for ages 10 and up, or maybe even older if your child scares easily. My favorite characters were actually “Weird Girl,” voiced by Catherine O’Hara (who also voices Victor’s mother), and her cat Mr. Whiskers, who befalls an interesting fate later in the movie. I found it funny, too, that Victor’s full name is Victor Frankenstein (the protagonist of Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein), and he is meddling with bringing creatures (back) to life; as usual, Disney found a way to include some things in the movie that adults would “get” but not children. The time period the movie is set in is never specified, too, and apparently that was a decisive choice by Burton – from looking at the cars and the way people dressed in it I would have guessed 1950s-70s, but they incorporate some references to computers and Pluto not being a planet anymore as well, so its possible it was set in modern times instead.
Yes, see this film. It’s worth seeing in 3D, as well – it’s actually really gorgeous with the 3D – and I would recommend it if possible. I was amazed at all the random twists and turns that the film had; it’s classic Tim Burton, but you can see the Disney aspects of it as well. It’s definitely not your typical Disney movie, especially in that it’s not geared towards the younger set, but its a good film to see with Halloween is fast approaching, and both kids and adults will be entertained by it.
Frankenweenie is in theaters today, October 5th, and is rated PG with a runtime of 87 minutes.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5.