A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Science and scientific thought are encouraged, but it's also important to have the right motivation behind a scientific project -- i.e. intention and purpose matter. Victor reveals himself to be a brave and loving friend. Grief over a pet's death is depicted in a realistic manner. Parents support their son, even though they don't fully understand why he made certain decisions.
Positive Role Models
Mr. Rzykruski is a brilliant science teacher who encourages independent thought, study, and observations and helps Victor see the value in working wholeheartedly toward a dream. Victor is sensitive, loving, and smart. He's willing to stop at nothing to help bring his best friend, Sparky, back to life. And later he's brave enough to help save Elsa.
Violence & Scariness
The movie has a generally dark and frightening tone, augmented by the often-suspenseful music. Most of Victor's classmates are creepy looking, especially the tall and freaky sounding Nassor and the "children of the corn" lookalike with her cat that makes prophetic, letter-shaped poop. Several scary sequences, including an invisible reanimated fish that bites and the entire last part of the movie, when reanimated pets, giant sea monkeys, a mummified creature, and a Godzilla-like turtle terrorize New Holland and its townsfolk. Pets die, and other pets turn into monsters that smash and destroy.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Parents hug, a mother reads a romance novel, and Sparky flirts with the neighbor's dog, Persephone. Victor and Elsa are sweet in a flirtatious way.
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Mild insults: "stupid," "crazy," "no friends."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Tim Burton's black-and-white, stop-motion animated film Frankenweenie is the feature-length version of a short he made early in his career. Like most of Burton's films, Frankenweenie's tone is dark and creepy and will likely scare kids who are sensitive to the macabre. On the other hand, this tale of a very young Frankenstein who reanimates his beloved pet dog is a great introduction to the horror genre for older kids and tweens who are ready for some scares -- like when a group of kids reanimates various pets that go wild (one ends up as big as Godzilla) and terrorize the town. Pets die in the movie, and the resulting grief is depicted realistically. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
FRANKENWEENIE was originally a black-and-white short film that Tim Burton directed and released in 1984, and turning it into a feature-length movie was obviously a labor of love for the director. Both an homage to classic monster movies and a tender relationship drama about the love between a boy and his dog, this is a film that works on so many levels. For kids and tweens, there's the basic story of a boy who will stop at nothing to get back his best friend; for young scary-movie buffs and adults, there are countless references to the horror genre that are seamlessly woven into the story.
What's brilliant about Burton is the emotional range his movies portray. Frankenweenie is undoubtedly frightening in parts -- particularly when the resurrected animals are unleashed onto the town festival -- but there's so much humor (a dead pet named "Colussus" turns out to be anything but) and tenderness as well. The tears that young Victor spills over Sparky are genuinely heartfelt, and, for once, Frankenstein doesn't seem like a mad genius -- just a young boy who misses his favorite creature in the world.
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.
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