Victor Frankenstein and Sparky in "Frankenweenie" directed by Tim Burton and presented by Walt Disney Pictures. Photo/Disney
It’s a film of opposites. Black and white. Good and evil. Fun and fright. But only one word comes to mind when summing it up: Magical.
Tim Burton’s creative genius has come back to life in his latest stop-motion Disney animated flick, “Frankenweenie.” This film about a boy and his dog will appeal to a wide range of ages and personalities. Dog lover or not, the story will pull at your heartstrings. Tender moments of love and affection create a sense of relateability to the quirky animated characters.
In the black-and-white film, a boy named Victor Frankenstein (Charlie Tahan) uses his love for science to bring his dog, Sparky, back to life. Even though you already know Sparky’s fate based on the premise of the movie, the scene of him being hit by a car is capable of drawing tears — until Victor, a boy of few companions who takes solace in science experiments, brings Sparky back to life in his attic using lighting and electricity. The “Frankenstein”-esque scene is one of Burton’s references to horror classics; other nods include characters’ names, such as Elsa Van Helsing, Edgar “E” Gore and Mr. Burgemeister.
When classmate Edgar learns of Victor’s “experiment,” he blackmails Victor into teaching him his method. They re-create the experiment on a dead goldfish, but the result was a more sinister, invisible monster fish. Victor seeks advice from his forward-thinking science teacher Mr. Rzykruski (Martin Landau), who tells him that science can be used for good or evil, so he must be careful. He asks Victor if he loved the second experiment the way he loved the first. Since Victor says no, Mr. Rzykruski says the lack of love was a change in the variables, resulting in the disastrous second outcome. The lesson learned is that we are all capable of both good and evil, and it’s up to us to decide which path we take.
Edgar spills the beans to more children who then try to one-up him by conducting the experiment themselves but unintentionally create monsters that menace the town (which looks like it was plucked right out of “Edward Scissorhands”).
The movie also stars Burton veterans Winona Ryder (“Beetlejuice,” “Edward Scissorhands”), Catherine O’Hara (“Beetlejuice,” “The Nightmare Before Christmas”), Martin Short (“Mars Attacks!”) and Martin Landau (“Ed Wood,” Sleepy Hollow”).
Charged with just the right amount of positive and negative, “Frankenweenie” is the perfect movie for this time of year and one that Disney can add to its Halloween bag of tricks — and treats.
“Frankenweenie,” in theaters Oct. 5, is rated PG; some material may be too intense for the littlest of moviegoers, so parents should use their judgment. Go to disney.com/frankenweenie.
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