Frankenweenie

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Frankenweenie Movie Poster Image
Burton's creepy young Frankenstein is perfect for tweens.
  • PG
  • 2012
  • 87 minutes
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 14 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 32 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive messages

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 & representations

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

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.

Sex

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.

Language

Mild insults: "stupid," "crazy," "no friends."

Consumerism
Drinking, drugs & smoking

What 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.

User Reviews

Parent Written byalibaba3 October 5, 2012

Kids enjoyed, while parents snoozed

Hubby and I took a nap. Kids 11 (boy), 10 (girl), and two 8 year old girls gave it a B+.
Adult Written byplinerd October 22, 2012

Warrants discussion, might be tough for compassionate kids.

I'm hesitant to place an age on it because all kids are different. Heck, even my almost 7-year old has responded more favorably to movies where I thought... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old October 9, 2012

Officially my second favorite Burton move

This was such a cute movie! But, if you want to see it, make sure you bring a truckload of kleenex tissues with you.
Kid, 11 years old October 6, 2012

BAD.

Frankenweenie was a very weird movie. I'm not one for dark humor. I'm not a fan of Tim Burton movies, either, so I wasn't expecting much. It was... Continue reading

What's the story?

Victor Frankenstein (voiced by Charlie Tahan) isn't a popular kid; his best friend is his pet dog, Sparky (Frank Welker). The only positive thing at school -- where Victor has no pals -- is his new science teacher, Mr. Rzykruski (Martin Landau), who explains how lightning and electricity can be harnessed and assigns all the kids a science project. After Sparky is accidentally run over during a baseball game, Victor is despondent ... until he decides to experiment on Sparky's corpse during a thunderstorm. But reanimating Sparky comes with its own set of problems, most notably Victor's classmates, who want to learn his secret and try it on their own dead pets. The blu-ray release includes an original short titled Captain Sparky vs the Flying Saucers.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the Frankenweenie's scare factor. Are the frightening scenes too much for little kids, or are they funnier than they are scary? Who do you think they're intended to appeal to?

  • Do you think kids will get the movie's references to horror movie characters? Why do you think Tim Burton's signature style is so dark?

  • Would the movie have the same impact if Sparky was a different kind of pet? What's the appeal of dog movies?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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