Suspension Of Disbelief: Frankenweenie
So Tim Burton’s been doing a lot of remakes and interpretations recently, so it’s nice to see him make something so very… Tim Burton. Frankenweenie is charming, funny and gothic as Tim Burton is like to make his movies, and the plot, as always, requires some suspension of disbelief.
Now, as much as I hate to admit it after that opening paragraph, this movie is a remake as well, albeit a remake of Burton’s own work. However, seeing as that was a short film, I think we can call this original, can’t we?
The movie, as many are, is about a boy and his dog. Victor Frankenstein and Sparky are like the Shaggy and Scooby Doo of the monochrome town of New Holland, where references to horror films and literature are scattered throughout (the main character’s name, for instance). Despite Victor’s keen interests in science that don’t encourage him to interact with many of his classmates (driven by the best character in the whole movie, the enigmatic and hilarious science teacher, Mr. Rzykruski. Where he comes from he claims, everyone’s a scientist. Even his plumber won the nobel prize), his Dad encourages him to give sports a try, and when Victor’s attempt at baseball sends a brilliant shot into the road, it’s goodnight for Sparky.
This is far from Marley and Me however, and taking inspiration from a science experiment where frogs’ legs were shown to be able to move after death with help from electrical pulses, Victor sets out to create a very different kind of Frankenstein’s monster. Needless to say, when the other kids find out what he’s done, the competition for the school’s hotly contested science fair becomes a lot less DIY and a lot more sci-fi.
The movie’s very enjoyable, with a lot of funny moments and a good lashing of angry, ignorant townsfolk who want to drive out the outsider, not that I want to compare Victor’s science teacher to Edward Scissorhands, but they’ve got a similar path in a similar environment in movies made by the same guy. So when I say it’s very Tim Burton, that’s a good thing, but it also carries some baggage in that it doesn’t really evolve from what he’s done before. Yes, it’s a good movie, yes, it’s adapted from his earlier work, but I think that Tim Burton missed a chance here to really expand on his craft, and what we get instead is a charming story interwoven with stereotypical Burtonesque tropes.
Still, there’s no Johnny Depp or Helena Bonham-Carter so that’s something.
And I don’t want to spoil anything but I was pretty disappointed in the ending of the movie. As a film that a lot of kids will probably want to watch I understand the decision was made with the best of intentions, but it came with a predictability that cheapened the emotions the events leading up to it held.
Still, I’m not too down on it. I had a lot of fun watching it, I wasn’t bored at any point and the scenes with the creepy cat are absolutely hilarious, but this is one of those films that loses a lot when you spent too much time thinking about it, and as much as I loved it upon watching it, I had a disappointing aftertaste.
And for that reason, I give this movie three zombie-godzilla-turtles out of five.
[image credits: squidoo, filmmusicreporter, usa today]