Frankenweenie is both horror film and a love story. But not a boy-meets-girl type of love story, rather a love story between a boy and his dog.
Frankenweenie tells the tale of a young boy, Victor Frankenstein, who loves two things: science and his faithful dog Sparky. But when disaster strikes and Sparky is sent to the pet cemetery, Victor longs for nothing more than to have his four-legged companion back with him again. One day, inspiration strikes Victor in his science class when he realizes that electricity could possibly bring Sparky back from the dead. The experiment proves successful, but now with Sparky alive again (literally hanging on by a limb), Victor must figure out how to keep him hidden from his parents, schoolmates, and other denizens of his town.
Frankenweenie is a simple, heartfelt film that both kids and adults will enjoy. And considering it’s a Burton film, it’s not as scary as you’d expect. Yes, it has it’s spooky elements, but never enough to make any of the toddlers in the audience cry. Instead of screaming, the kids in my theatre were laughing and really getting into the story. The humor really balances out the scarier elements and, of course, who doesn’t love a cute little puppy?
What I loved about Frankenweenie was the simplicity of the story (unlike this year’s other stop-motion film ParaNorman, which tragically suffered from an overly complicated plot). Frankenweenie keeps it simple allowing for both kids and adults to enjoy the film and understand what’s going on. You also get a chance to take in the scenery and focus more on the array of characters, rather than on back stories and plot build up.
I was actually surprised by the ending. Without giving away any spoilers, the ending is definitely not what I expected based on the underlying message throughout the film. What actually happened seemed slightly contradictory than the moral. Nevertheless, I loved the ending and how all the loose ends were neatly tied up in a bow.
Burton does a great job throughout the film referencing different Frankenstein motifs (the Bride of Frankenstein is particularly amusing), as well as his own source material: his original live-action short of the same name. He also did a wonderful job with the stop motion: the animation was refined yet purposefully not perfect. I was especially captivated by the animation of Victor’s teacher, Mr. Rzykruski, whose mouth seemed to be animated at a different frame rate than the rest of his body. It just shows one of the may ways Burton puts his own unique spin on his films.
Frankenweenie is fun, family friendly and bold. It’s a wonderful homage to classic horror films of times past. While spooky, I was still laughing and smiling the entire time as Frankenweenie stole my heart. Dare I say that it’s one of the best animated film of the year? Yes.