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Review: Tim Burton’s ‘Frankenweenie’ Has Heart, Even if it’s Been Revived

The film opens locally this weekend.

If you’ve ever lost a dog—or any kind of pet for that matter—“Frankenweenie” will definitely make you tear up. Although it is sad about the loss of a pet, and a boy’s dream to bring him back, it is also strangely hopeful and uplifting in the dark way that only Tim Burton can do.

The whole story is told in black-and-white and it uses the stop animation puppetry that Burton used in “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Corpse Bride”—which were both nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards.

It’s about a boy named Victor Frankenstein (voiced by Charlie Tahan (who was Zac Efron’s young brother in “Charlie St. Cloud” and with Will Smith in “I Am Legend”). He’s kind of a loner in a town called New Holland that looks suspiciously like Burbank. Burton used the neighborhoods of Burbank (and the hills) to look like the area he grew up locally, and so, it may look familiar.

But, the kids are a bit creepy. There’s a wonderful wide-eyed girl with small pupils and a cat that dreams about people and poops the initials of the person it dreams about. There’s a guy who seems to want to be Victor’s Igor.

One of the most brilliant parts of the film is when the inspirational and creepy science teacher, Mr. Rzykruski (voiced by Martin Landau), is speaking to the PTA when they are concerned about his unconventional methods.

He launches into a long monologue about how he wants to reach into their children’s brains to manipulate them, and then he tells the parents they’re all a bunch of idiots. It’s a speech I’d love to use someday, and it’s simply hysterical.

The movie has plenty of film references to “Godzilla,” “The Bride of Frankenstein” and even a bit of “Edward Scissorhands,” but it’s certainly an original as a children’s film.

What's most amazing is the stop-motion style that has 24 frames per second. On average, it takes the puppeteer to move it 24 times to et once second of film and it could take a week to get five seconds of action.As many as 18 animators worked on the film at one time.

It starts off with a movie within a movie of “Sparkysaurus” showing the beloved household dog being a monster that invades a miniature city. That’s entertaining enough, but it sets up a sweetness and charm that pervades the rest of the movie.

Locally, the film is playing:

AMC Universal Citywalk Stadium 19

Laemmle Noho 7 5240 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601

Century 8  12827 Victory Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91606

Egyptian Theatre 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90028

Miki Henderson October 07, 2012 at 02:30 PM
WHat a lovely movie! I took my great grand daughter and we were just charmed, and yes, we recognizd the San Fernando Valley in the animation. We should have more people reviewing movies on Patch. Anyone seen THE MASTERS yet? I want to go see it but no one I know has liked it. What about LOOPERS? Thanks again patch.
Kelly Cole October 11, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Joe and I were deciding if we should see it or not. Your review makes me think "Yes!"

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