Living in a small town, Victor only has one true friend--Sparky, his adorable and faithful dog. When Sparky dies, Victor uses his smarts and unwavering love to bring Sparky back to life. But trouble follows and Victor must find a way to save their town and return life back to normal.
After the Tim Burton disaster that was Dark Shadows, I was a little hesitant walking into the theater for this movie. Many people say that Burton is loosing his touch. Others said that he never had it to begin with. But Frakenweenie reaffirms that Burton has a gift for making wacky and creepy entertainment for families. Frakenweenie is no Nightmare Before Christmas but it is a story that will make even the coldest of hearts melt. Yes, that means even my father shed a few tears watching this movie...but you didn't hear that from me.
The style and design of the characters in this film are very similar to Burton's The Corpse Bride. And like TCB, Burton played with color to tell his story. Frankenweenie is completely in black and white. The lack of color compliments the somber tone of the film and makes the film stronger as a result. Other than the black and white style, there are many homages to old horror films including the plot and character design.
Sparky--the Frakenweenie of this film--is nothing like the monster of yore. Even after he's come back from death, Sparky is lively and thirsty for adventure. Burton chose to make Sparky a very realistic version of a dog making it even easier to fall in love with him. But while I enjoyed Sparky, there were a few of the characters felt like stereotypical representations. Toshiaki in particular felt like a stereotypical Asian-American. He spoke in broken English, was very intelligent, and was ruthless in his pursuit of success. It felt like a poor choice--intentionall or not--that only serves to perpetuate negative stereotypes and poor race relations.
Overall, Frankweenie was one of the sweetest movies released this year. The plot isn't terribly fast paced and some younger kids might lose interest. But, it is a must see for elementary aged children and for people who are just young at heart. Frankenweenie is a dog movie for the supernatural-obsessed generation. And anyone who has ever lost a pet can sympathize with Victor's plight. Although, I'm sure the number of electrified dead pets in the United States will increase in the near future. This is my warning to parent's taking their kids to see this film. Beware!