Frankenweenie is a Filmgoer’s Best Friend

Cameron Hines

About 20 years ago, a young filmmaker created a short film titled Frankenweenie about a boy who brings his former dog back to life a-la Frankenstein style. However, at that time, the company that the filmmaker pitched the idea to—Disney Studios—was concerned that the film was too dark and would frighten children. Now, that filmmaker, who has risen to stardom and whose name is known by the whole industry (Tim Burton), has finally been given clearance to create his project for a wide audience, and the wait has been well worth it.

Frankenweenie is about a boy who brings his former dog back to life a-la Frankenstein style.

Victor, a young boy growing up in the small town of New Holland, is socially introverted and prefers spending time experimenting in science than playing sports or socializing with his schoolmates. His only friend is his loving dog Sparky, and that is all the company Victor needs to be happy. Then, one day, Sparky is hit by a car, and as such leaves a hole in Victor’s heart that cannot be filled by just the memory of his dog. As a result, he takes matters into his own hands and reanimates his dog. Of course, he cannot keep this a secret for very long, and soon Sparky’s sudden presence moves the plot to its conclusion.

As a fan of Tim Burton’s, it’s nice to see him go back to a more creative approach to storytelling. As his last several films have all been adaptations, it’s nice to finally be brought back to the heart and tenderness that such Burton films as Edward Scissorhands featured. Another change in Burton’s usual formula is (wait for it) no Helena Bonham Carter or Johnny Depp. As strange as that may seem, it’s nice to see Burton breaking a formulaic approach to film, as it not only adds a fresh perspective to what his films can do besides the two, but also doesn’t make you feel like you’re watching just “another Tim Burton movie.” But don’t worry, Danny Elfman returns once again to score Burton’s work and is in top form.

Frankenweenie is a touching, emotional rollercoaster that deals with love, loss and accepting losing those close to you. But the beauty of the film is it doesn’t get too self-serious, as it is able to weave in humor and even homages to other films. Where the film does fall short though is Burton taking one ending over the other, and the one he does choose, in my opinion, cheapens the overall feel of the film.

If you are a fan of Tim Burton’s films, then this is certainly your bread and butter. And if you’re looking for a charming, sensitive film about love and loss, then this is your cup of tea. Frankenweenie, while it does have its flaws, is a prime example of what happens when a top-notch director is given support by film studios to create an original movie.