Burton’s film uses striking black-and-white stop-motion animation, and its use of 3D, if not up to the level of Hugo (a better film for young audiences), is more pleasurable than most 3D fare from Hollywood. In comparison to other Burton works, Frankenweenie also is less concerned with taking cultural shots at people Burton might view as narrow-minded than it is with the lessons that result from youthful exuberance and a lack of foresight.

Landau’s inspired voicing of Mr. Rzykruski and the aforementioned animation style are highlights, as is the character of Mr. Whiskers, a wide-eyed feline with special powers and an owner who doles out matter-of-fact premonitions. It’s all quite odd, and sometimes more unsettling than it is amusing. Although Frankenweenie is creative and visually inspired at times, it’s thematically a dark film that may frighten younger viewers unaccustomed to dealing with the loss of loved ones.

If Burton’s stories about misunderstood outsiders appeal to you, Frankenweenie may be your cup of Halloween tea. It’s certainly far superior to its main competition currently at the multiplex—the tired Hotel Transylvania. If it comes down to a choice between those two titles, you should know it’s Hotel, not Frankenweenie, that’s the dog.

CAUTIONS:

  • Language/Profanity: "pee;" a teacher says her students are all "stupid, unenlightened" and that they have "small minds;" a girl sees premonitions in her cat’s waste
  • Alcohol/Smoking/Drugs: None
  • Sex/Nudity: None
  • Violence/Crime: A teacher and animals are struck by lightning; Sparky is hit by a car and killed, but we only hear the accident and don’t see it; grave robbing at the pet cemetery; Sparky wags his tail off and scratches his ear off; Sparky drinks water that leaks out through his stitches; a boy falls off a roof; Sparky runs into a mirror; pets restored to life go on a rampage
  • Religion: A gravemarker consists of milkbones in the shape of a cross; Victor’s mom tells him that when someone we love dies, they move into our hearts; animal reanimation after death is central to the storyline

Questions? Comments? Contact the writer at crosswalkchristian@hotmail.com.

Publication date: October 5, 2012