Tim Burton has always been a staple in my life, especially growing up as my family loves his first feature length film, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. Nightmare Before Christmas & Big Fish also hold special spots in my heart, so I was thrilled to attend an advanced screening of his latest creation, Frankenweenie, afew evenings ago.
Frankenweenie tells the tale of New Holland local, Victor. A grade schooler lad who is a bit of a loner & has 2 loves in his life: Film-making & his faithful dog, Sparky, who also acts for him in his short films he creates in the attic with the assistance of Moms kitchenware. Sparky is the kind of character you instantly fall in-love with, & want to root for. New Holland is a strange little town yet it actually hit home for me as it reminded me of Solvang, California. Victor’s Dad is a bit concerned for him, though, & recommends he gives sports a try as a compromise….unfortunetly, this leads to the family losing their beloved Sparky in an accident. Heartbroken losing his bff, Victor learns from his peculiar yet brilliant science teacher (clearly influenced by one of Burton’s idols, the late, great, Vincent Price) how to use electricity & lightning to bring forms of life back from the dead…..and on a dark & stormy night, Victor concocts the plan & is reunited with Sparky!
From here, things go astray for Victor. His evil classmates, all pining to win a science fair trophy, learn of what the boy has done. Throughout the film, we meet a colorful array of odd & hysterical characters. Including 2 of my favorites, “Weird Girl” (voiced by actress great, Catherine O’Hara, who also voiced Sally Rag Doll in Nightmare as well as played Kevin’s mom in Home Alone 1 & 2) & Mr. Whiskers…her kitty who can predict the future!;)
And, 90’s Queen Winona Ryder is Elsa, Victors emo-goth neighbor.
As always, musical collaborator since the Pee Wee days, Danny Elfman did the score & I must say, the vibes & spooky tones of Nightmare Before Christmas are there in full form, making an already unique story even more enchanting.
While I highly recommend Frankenweenie, I feel it is more for those who already love & appreciate the world of Tim Burton. Some sequences are very Burton-esque & dark, which might be scary for some young viewers.
(Photograph by Francine Orr/LA Times)
Disclosure: I was invited to an advanced screening of Frankenweenie. All opinions are my own.