Frankenweenie had several strikes against it before it even came on, so I consulted with no less than eight people about it after it ended, and must report that nobody, including me, rated it at less than three stars out of a possible four, with half giving it a maximum four. I don’t like Tim Burton’s stop-motion puppets because they are either spherical heads with tiny pyramidal noses or grotesque but too traditional caricatures. But you have to credit Frankenweenie with effective emotional expression whenever emotional expression is attempted. But only the caricature of Martin Landau as a combination of Bela Lugosi and Vincent Price was really impressive. I didn’t like any of the characters, though on this I was opposed especially by a woman who liked the dog and a child who liked the sea monkeys. Which brings up the subject of homages to old horror movies and comic books. I wonder how many people under 50 know who the sea monkeys were.
Homages to old horror classics were almost too literal and at least in the case of Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory too sketchy. It’s easier to have a lot of set detail when you don’t have to make puppet models, and Pixar movies have spoiled me into expecting too much of animations. Story elements are so dependent on antecedents and cliched situations that they are too often predictable, though it seems to be a fascination with current movie audiences to play recognition games with all kinds of movies and they may enjoy what I find merely distracting. And they’ll spot a lot more echoes than I could. I had forgotten the movie Gremlins, for just one example. I saw Frankenweenie as more a succession of episodes than a central story, but that is also a modern trend, in which effective individual scenes are more important than a consistent whole. In all, Frankenweenie is maybe just too modern for me.
View the trailer below: