Is it ironic that Disney, who turned away a young Tim Burton for being too dark, now have their name on an unpleasant cartoon based around his original short animation?
Vincent is a young boy who has a great appreciation for science, so when his beloved dog Sparky is killed in an accident, he resurrects Sparky from the dead. Seeing this as a winning entry to their school’s science fair, Vincent’s peers look to recreate the same ghastly results.
Vincent was an alarming and creative animated short by Tim Burton back in 1982, and while it is both vastly superior to this film and isn’t at all the same narrative, it does have a lot in common. Vincent himself, the resurrected demon dog as a pet, and even the science teacher in Frankenweenie looking a lot like Vincent Price (narrator in Vincent).
Okay, I’ve said “Vincent” too many times now!
Frankenweenie is something of an homage to many of Burton’s original creations, and I do like the decision to make it black and white. But there is an overriding lack of substance here, most obvious being a lack of morality or message. (see the ending, which I won’t spoil…) The film is more of a testimony to classic horror films than a complete children’s film, making it a mystery who this film is for. Kids won’t get the references (which are glaring: like a poodle getting zapped by electricity and getting a Bride of Frankenstein hairstyle) and adults won’t find enough substance outside of the references.
There are glaring inconsistencies, mostly little ones that niggled away at me, and for an animation these make the entire project feel quite careless. Vincent drags the body of his dog through the house with difficulty in one scene, only in the next scene he’s carrying it up the stairs without a problem?
Electricity in this movie can only be described as “magic”; while it does resurrect Sparky ala Frankenstein, it does manage to also morph a cat and a bat into a single creature. Huh?
It is a very dark, surprisingly unpleasant animation. Not like Vincent which is unpleasant but creative, Frankenweenie is unpleasant with freakish human characters and is simply other ideas stitched together.
Speaking of stitching, what exactly happened to Sparky to have him stitched like that?? He was only hit by a car, not fed through a rotor blade!
Quite underwhelming, unless you love, love classic horror film references.