Film, Family and kids

Tim Burton’s ‘Frankenweenie’ is the director’s first animated film – and his first without Johnny Depp – since 2005’s ‘Corpse Bride’. It’s the story of Victor, an awkward schoolboy and a vague alter ego of the filmmaker’s younger self, who brings his dead dog Sparky back to life with the help of lightning. It’s ‘Frankenstein’, softened and reimagined in the postwar American suburbs, and it has the gentle stamp all over it of the mid-century American horror movies that Burton grew up on.

It’s a kids’ film, but one that possesses a delicious sense of the macabre, and plays with welcome messages about creativity, reason and the search for knowledge rubbing up against conservatism and dogma. Victor has to fight to realise his science project in the face of philistinism and a gym teacher who declares: ‘Sometimes knowing too much is the problem.’

For Burton, the project is a fleshing out of a short film he made back in 1984, although this time he tells the story as a black-and-white, stop-motion cartoon in 3D, a form that brings with it a simplicity and restraint lacking in his mega-budget live-action affairs. The craft is seductive: characters are realised with compelling detail, from Victor’s oddball friend Edgar, with his oversized teeth and spindly legs, to his terrifying eastern European science teacher, Mr Rzykruski.

The big tease is that, by promoting the supremacy of science, ‘Frankenweenie’ takes a sideswipe at creationists – but it does so by reshaping the story of the ultimate freaky creator. Burton might not like square teachers messing with our minds, but young inventors rewriting the rules of nature with a little imagination will do just fine.

It’s Burton’s most pleasurable film in a long while and surely his most personal. It descends into a final section of anarchic buffoonery, but this is a Tim Burton film with something to say. And that’s a rare and precious thing.

By: Dave Calhoun


Release details

Rated: PG
Release date: Wednesday October 17 2012
Duration: 87 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Tim Burton
Cast: Winona Ryder
Catherine O’Hara
1 person listening

We saw it today - I took my kids who are 12 and 6. We are big Tim Burton film fans. My son especially has a thirst for the macabre and this doesn't disappoint at all, on that front! Some great characters are here and you can tell this is a very personal film for Burton, you get the feeling he was the boy, Victor, once upon a time. I don't think this film has had enough press or advertising and maybe this is why it's not popular. Some of the creatures confused and irritated me, however, hence I'm not giving it 5. Highly recommended though!

Enjoyable filmbut not sure how family friendly it is to be honest. I did enjoy the dark story, and the filming was excellent. Another 3D that is unnesassary.

I agree with Scrumpyjack. Artistically it is excellent with a huge number of nods to horror classics and also a slight tip of the hat to Hitchcock. However it seems a bit hollow to me and moves quite slowly to start with and I am not sure it is really suitable for nervous under tens. I had the same experience re an empty screening with I think only me and four others in a screen that could hold 300 this lunchtime. Probably worth 7 out of ten. Not quite good enough for four stars for me.

Artistically 4 star. Family friendliness 2 star. Overall 3 star....on the plus side, I thought i'd never again see a Burton film of this quality, But i'm afraid PARANORMAN spanks the shit out of this in every way. 3D? just don't. Sad point I must raise, I worked in a cinema in the late 80's & that was Disney's worst period (OLIVER & CO...THE RESCUERS DOWN UNDER....anyone?...ANYONE?!) but on their first Saturday there was 100+ punters for the afternoon show. Today's total in a 250 seater? 10. Is this Disneys biggest flop ever? 6/10

"The science teacher Mr.Buergermeister" - as if. Mr. Bürgermeister is the neighbour and as his name (at least in german) indicates he is the mayor.

"The science teacher Mr.Buergermeister" - as if. Mr. Bürgermeister is the neighbour and as his name (at least in german) indicates he is the mayor.