A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Amid plenty of iffy themes related to revenge, the movie addresses the ongoing pain of loss/grief: "They say time heals all wounds, but time is the wound." Also highlights the value of people being able to talk through their trauma, and that being a friend can mean just listening to them.
Positive Role Models
Lisa's grief and trauma are treated dismissively by most around her, and her behavior is often misinterpreted (especially by her stepmother), but that doesn't justify the choices she makes or the actions she takes in response. The creature has no ability to self-regulate. One bright spot is Taffy, who's counter-stereotypical to the way that stepsisters are often portrayed in entertainment: She's popular and kind, welcoming her new sister with open arms and including her in her life and activities.
Female-driven story with a female writer, director, and cinematographer. Most main characters, including Lisa, are White, but her stepsister is played by Filipino American actor Liza Soberano and is a positive character. In supporting/background roles, Lisa's classmates and neighbors represent a range of races and ethnicities.
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Violence & Scariness
Suicide is presented as an acceptable solution to some problems/circumstances. Multiple shocking ax murders; they're played for laughs, but they're gory, with spurting blood. The creature sees the murders as justified, and although Lisa doesn't necessarily agree, she ultimately condones it. Body parts are cut off, although not in terribly realistic ways. Flashbacks show teen girl witnessing her mother's murder during a home invasion. Creepy/macabre images. Heavy objects used as weapons. A man is beaten up; it's not shown, but the suggestion is that he deserved it. Monster starts out muddy and scary, missing body parts, but gets cuter as time goes on. Electrocution. Vomiting. Someone intentionally gives a teen girl a drugged drink. Teen boy touches a classmate on the breast without her consent. Teen boy puts girl's hand on the crotch of his jeans without her consent.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Teens shown in bed together, shirtless under the covers, suggesting that they just had sex. Lisa is intent on having her first sexual experience (she says she doesn't want to die a virgin). Making out. References to masturbation; character shown with hands down pants. Sex toy shown. Kiss. High school students at a party make out passionately on the couch. One scene involves a penis, which is seen as a shadow on the wall.
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Strong language includes "ass," "bitch," "boob," "boner," "damn," "goddamned," "psycho whore," "screwed," "s--t," "slut," and "shut up." Homophobic slur: A man calls a tween boy "a little fruitcake."
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Products & Purchases
Lots of '80s items for scene-setting.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A character unintentionally ingests drugs (PCP), with negative consequences. Underage drinking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Lisa Frankenstein is a campy, 1980s-set teen romantic horror comedy written by Diablo Cody, loosely based on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Here, body parts aren't acquired by digging up the recently deceased—instead, the reanimated monster (Cole Sprouse) murders people who mistreat main character Lisa (Kathryn Newton) and appropriates their appendages for his own use. Violence is over the top and largely played for laughs, but it's shocking and quite bloody. Flashbacks show a teen girl witnessing her mother's murder during a home invasion. Suicide is also presented as an (impermanent) solution to certain problems/circumstances. As part of the film's satirization of and homage to '80s teen comedies, Lisa is focused on losing her virginity to the right guy. There's much more talk than action, but sexual content includes implied masturbation, a giant vibrator, and couples shown in bed together before and after sex. A character is touched/made to touch someone else without consent. Lisa accidentally ingests PCP at a party, and nothing good comes of it. Language is consistent with '80s teen talk and includes "s--t," "bitch," "boner town," "psycho whore," and more. Vomiting. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
For anyone who's fantasized about what a Daniel Waters-Tim Burton-Mel Brooks-John Hughes-Diablo Cody collaborative script would look like (anyone?), this is a fun, if outrageous, payoff. With Lisa Frankenstein, Cody infuses the teen monster zeal of her own Jennifer's Body with the dark high school serial killer humor of Waters' Heathers, the lonely girl whose only friends are dead of Burton's Beetlejuice, the revisionist take on Shelley of Brooks' Young Frankenstein, and the nerds-build-a-girlfriend plot of Hughes' Weird Science. Cody even places her characters at the time that most of those other movies were released—the 1980s—which will likely make the film more enjoyable for adults who grew up with these films. And yet, this is definitely an original take.
It's unfortunate that once it gets past the creative opening, the movie's energy stagnates like a cadaver. But, just like Frankenstein's monster, as appendages are added, the electricity surges. The direction from Zelda Williams (daughter of the late Robin Williams) is uneven, but it's promising. Lisa Frankenstein is both like nothing you've ever seen before and still comfortably familiar.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.