Wed, Oct. 3rd, 2012, 09:51 am || Frankenweenie (2012)

add to memories

This is a movie in which the dog dies in the beginning.

(I am totally posting this entry just so I could open with that line.)

There were some free advanced screening tickets circulating around work (how do those work anyway?).

This is the most Tim Burtonesque of Tim Burton's movies that I've seen in a while: a black-and-white gothic American suburbia stop-motion animation movie referencing horror movie tropes, mid-century modern design, loner kids, and the bond between boy and dog. (Does anyone beside Tim Burton do Gothic Suburbia?)

I love stop-motion animation, and although I liked Corpse Bride and Coraline, I love how old-fashioned Frankenweenie is, and the animation feels just a bit more rickety and stop-motion-y than the previous two.

The movie is basically a rewrite of a short Tim Burton did when he was younger. Young Victor Frankenstein is a bit of a loner, but he loves his dog Sparky. Alas, Sparky is not long for the earth, at least until Victor rigs up various kitchen appliances and kites and manages to reanimate Sparky. His classmates, fearing that Victor will win the science contest, soon try to get in on the reanimation party, to rather disastrous results. I was expecting to be entertained, given the premise, but it's a really heartfelt movie along with being entertaining. It feels a bit like a classic already.

I only wish Burton had as much fun skewering non-horror tropes. The bad accent for Japanese student Toshiaki was terrible, as is the fatphobia and the lack of girls. Weird Girl is the scene stealer of the movie, but I wish Burton had the girls be just as competitive for the science contest. And Elsa is, alas, mostly just the cute goth girl crush object who isn't even crushed on that much.

Much less importantly, there is also a dead rat, which upsets me.

That said, I love pretty much everything else about the movie, particularly Mr. Whiskers and Weird Girl. I love how dog-like Sparky is, even undead, as well as the science teacher's unfortunate speech to the PTA, the character designs, the absolutely perfect mid-century modern props and architecture, the various monster rampages, and the way the film spirals deliciously out of control as Victor finds keeping Sparky a secret to be harder than he thought. Also, bonus points for parents who are involved and not stupid.

But more than that, it's about having a pet and loving that pet, and I wanted desperately to play with my rats when the movie was over.

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