Starring the voices of: Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short and Charlie Tahan
Directed by: Tim Burton
Running time: 1 hr 27 mins
Walt Disney Pictures
Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars
In 1984 a young filmmaker working at the Walt Disney Company made a short film that featured a young boy recreating the “Frankenstein” story by resurrecting his recently deceased dog from the dead. Horrified at the completed film, Disney fired the filmmaker, declaring the film too scary for its young audiences. The film was called “Frankenweenie” and the filmmaker was a 26 year old named Tim Burton. Almost three decades later, and the past being in the past, Disney gave Burton a boatload of money to create a feature length version of the film, with all of the style and quirks that make it a Tim Burton film. And the studio certainly got their money’s worth!
Victor Frankenstein (Tahan) is a quiet kid who makes his own home movies and enjoys science. But the thing that makes him happiest is his dog, Sparky. The two are inseparable. As Victor prepares for the upcoming science fair his father (Short) convinces him to give baseball a try. Against all odds Victor knocks the ball into the street where, sadly, Sparky tries to retrieve it. Sparky is struck by a car and killed. After the funeral Victor lies in bed missing his friend. “I’m sorry about Sparky,” his mother (O’Hara) tells him. “If we could bring him back we would.” Victor quickly begins to think. Then, to quote Gru in “Despicable Me” – “LIGHT BULB!”
Presented in black and white and accented by a great Danny Elfman score, “Frankenweenie” is a heart-tugging classic featuring Burton at the top of his game. The inclusion of some fine 3D imagery makes it THE film to see during the Halloween season. The animation is classic Burton – none of his characters look alike. There are tall people, short people – fat and skinny people. There are also pets that take on the characteristics of their humans. The story is familiar to anyone that knows the history of the Frankenstein family and the vocal cast brings it to life brilliantly. Besides the three leads, stellar work is turned in by Atticus Shaffer, Frank Welker and old Burton company members Martin Landau and Winona Ryder.
I should mention that the film may get a little scary for younger viewers due to the subject matter so parents be prepared to explain some things to your little ones.