Thursday, January 17, 2013

Frankenweenie...The Tales Review

Disney's Frankenweenie

You know the story old story, the one that goes like this: Boy loves his dog. Dog loves his boy. Boy plays fetch with dog, dog gets run over by a car. Boy is sad. boy brings dog back from the dead. Ok, so maybe it's not your TYPICAL "boy and his dog" story, but Disney's Frankenweenie is without a doubt a testimony to love and devotion, and how it's possible to look past one's oddities and see the real person inside.

For those of you who haven't seen Tim Burton's latest masterpiece, we'll try not to spoil too much here. 

In 1984, 25 year old Tim Burton co-wrote and directed a live action short film called Frankenweenie. Produced and distributed by Buena Vista Distribution (a Disney Company), Frankenweenie was both a parody and homage to the classic 1931 film Frankenstein (which of course was based on the story of the same name by Mary Shelley). Burton's version of the classic Frankenstein story introduced a young boy named Victor Frankenstein, who loses is beloved friend and dog Sparky in an automobile accident. A very distraught Victor learns, through is school science class, all about electrical impulses in muscles, and formulates a plan to use said electricity to bring his best friend back to life. As you can well imagine, the newly resurrected Sparky causes quite the commotion and mayhem in the neighborhood, resulting in a very dramatic and climatic ending. Burton's original live action Frankenweenie, shot in black and white for effect, ran for only 30 minutes. 

Flash forward 28 years. Tim Burton has enjoyed a wonderfully creative career with movies like Edward Scissor-Hands, Beetlejuice, Alice In Wonderland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and stop motion animation films such as The Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride. Mr. Burton has all but pioneered the art of stop motion animation films, and continually creates vivid and oddly heartwarming stories, through his signature style: dark, sometimes ghoulish visuals, macabre humor combined with a sort of twisted morality that can at times be difficult to define. However, in October, 2012, Tim Burton released a large budget remake of his 1984 Mary Shelley homage Frankenweenie that proves that not only is Tim Burton the absolute master of stop motion, but that he can deliver a touching, heartwarming film with veritable ease.
Tim Burton and Sparky

In this latest telling of Frankenweenie, Burton tells us pretty much the same story he did in 1984, however the characters are more developed and he's added several players to the telling. In this stop motion masterpiece (yeah, I said masterpiece) Burton has made young Victor more of an outsider - not really fitting in with his classmates (although his classmates are a little...odd as well), and more of a science wunderkind. As in the original, Victor's best friend is his beloved dog Sparky. They do everything together, including making their own homemade monster movie. And of course, keeping to the original, Sparky meets his demise fairly early on leading Victor on the same crusade as his real-life predecessor. As the story unfolds, Burton adds "life" to the film by creating a pretty impressive sub-plot involving his classmates, electricity and some deceased pets. I won't get into these to preserve at least SOME spoiler-free moments for those who have yet to see the movie. 
Victor Frankenstein and Sparky

We truly enjoyed Frankenweenie, it epitomizes Tim Burton at his very best. Every aspect of the movie is outstanding - from the lighting to the smoothness of the stop motion. In fact, there are times in the film that I found myself forgetting this was animation! The black and white medium Burton chose was perfection to say the least. Perhaps this style helps with the actual "feel" of the film, it sets the mood if you will as well as screams homage to monster movies of the good old days. The voice talent in Frankenweenie is nothing less than what we've come to expect from Tim Burton. Catherine O'Hara, Martin Short, Winona Ryder, the great Martin Landau and Charlie Tahan (Charlie St. Cloud) bring amazing life to the characters they play. The suburban neighborhood Burton puts the Frankensteins in is no less a visual feast than the neighborhood Edward Scissorhands resided in. Bringing everything together is yet another terrific score by legendary composer Danny Elfman, who's collaborations with Burton are as impressive as Burton's movies. 
Puppets From The Traveling Exhibit

Although touted as a "family film", there are some themes and scenes that may be a little disturbing to the younglings, so be cognizant of that fact. Also, the pure fact that it is in black and white may put off some younger viewers, but I promise, what Frankenweenie lacks in Technicolor it more than makes up for in story. 

Frankenweenie is definitely a must have for all Tim Burton fans, as well as for anyone who loves a good, heartwarming story with a lot of humor, action and many unexpected twists.  Frankenweenie is available now on DVD (SRP $29.99), 2-Disc Blu-Ray Combo Pack (SRP $39.99) and:

Disney BluRay3D+BluRay+DVD+Digital Copy 
        4-Disc Blu-Ray Combo Pack (Blu-Ray, 3D Blu-Ray, DVD   
        and Digital Copy-SRP $49.99) includes:

  • All New Original Short: "Captain Sparky vs The Flying Saucers" - an exciting all new short featuring Victor and Sparky's home movie
  • "Miniatures In Motion: Bringing Frankenweenie To Life
  • "Frankenweenie" Touring Exhibit - Allows audiences to explore the artistry of the film's puppets, sets and props in a showcase that's traveling the world
  • The original 1984 live-action Frankenweenie short
  • Music Video - "Pet Sematary" by the Plain White T's
Frankenweenie can be purchased everywhere DVD and Blu-Rays are sold, or from our Amazon Affiliate Store at Tales From The Mouse House Amazon Store. This way, you'll get a GREAT movie and you'll be helping the Tales cause!! Enjoy and remember...electricity is our friend! ~~ Al & Joyce


  1. Probably not the best movie to take your kiddies out to go and see, but still a fun-loving, heartfelt flick that’s a nice return to pace for Burton. I just hope he can keep it going. Nice review.

    1. Hey Dan! Thanks for the comment, and yes, I certainly agree with you. Although Frankenweenie is an awesome addition to the Tim Burton collection, it's not really for little-little ones! Take care!!


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