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‘Frankenweenie’ was an overall disappointment and is definitely not meant for children. It started out strong, but the movie quickly deteriorated with how far-fetched it was becoming and finally crashed and burned in the last scene when it becomes evident that Victor Frankenstein has not really learned anything throughout his journey.
However, the movie was slightly redeemable because of Tim Burton and the voices of the actors, in addition to the references to other horror movies. Tim Burton strikes again with stunning animations set behind a stark black and white landscape. While serious for the majority of the movie, it does have its funny parts, especially when there are references to old horror flicks and characters such as Mrs. Frankenstein, Dracula, Igor, the Invisible Man, Godzilla, and Gremlins. The main characters are voiced by the talented Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short, Charlie Tahan, and Winona Ryder, who all brilliantly portray their characters in the movie.
The story follows elementary school kid Victor Frankenstein trying to find the perfect science fair project when his beloved dog, Sparky, gets hit by a car. Devastated, Victor decides to try to make Sparky come back to life by harnessing electricity and using the wind and lightning storm outside to his benefit. Lo and behold, it magically works and Sparky comes back to life, to Victor’s joy. However, Victor decides to try to hide Sparky. Not surprisingly, Sparky is seen by the Igor-like classmate, who demands to be taught how to bring animals back from the dead. The spreading of this top-secret knowledge brings about chaos as the race to get the best science fair project causes the kids to make less-than-wise decisions about what they wanted to bring back to life.
While the characters are interesting and vivid, the storyline rapidly deteriorates (until the audience is tempted to just get up and leave the theater) because of the immense implausibility, not to mention the depiction of the adults. The parents, especially Victor’s, never have any idea what is going on with their own kids and hardly lift a finger to help when their kids are in mortal peril. All the parents in the movie are passive to the point of absurdity, while the elementary school kids save the day and the town.
Even though ‘Frankenweenie’ is a heartwarming story of how much a boy loves his dog, the intense emotions it portrays is inappropriate for kids. The theater was filled with crying kids when Sparky died the first time and when it looked like he was going to die again. Since the majority of kids have some sort of animal, they easily connect with Victor and how they would feel if their pet died. Since Victor was able to make Sparky come back to life, kids might believe that their pet can come back to life, too. The horror sequences at the end of the movie, when so many scary animals are being brought back to life, is too much.
There is no real lesson to learn from ‘Frankenweenie.’ Throughout the movie, it seems Victor is making progress with understanding death, but he ultimately makes little progress. He is still so obsessed with keeping his dog alive at the end of the movie that kids do not really learn how to healthily cope with the loss of a pet. While ‘Frankenweenie’ is not all bad, it is one of the movies that should be questioned as a “kid’s movie.”