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Frankenweenie

By MATTHEW SINGER

“Based on an original idea by Tim Burton,” it says in the credits. It’s hard to read that phrase and not snicker a little. In recent years, the popular knock on Burton has been that he doesn’t have any original ideas left—that all he’s capable of is taking someone else’s idea and turning it into gothic cotton candy. But Frankenweenie is, indeed, a Tim Burton original. Only, it’s an original idea that’s close to 30 years old. In 1984, a few years out of art college and working for Disney, Burton made his first live-action short film, about a young boy who screws bolts into his dead dog’s neck and brings the pooch back to life à la Frankenstein’s monster. So, yes, Tim Burton is now remaking himself. But maybe that’s what he should have been doing all along, because Frankenweenie is easily the best thing Burton has done in many years. It is, by no means, a true sign of revitalization—how could it be, really?—but it is a reminder that the world wasn’t wrong for embracing Burton’s darkly cartoonish vision in the late ’80s. It’s not like he went and just made the same movie over again, either: Animated in gorgeous black-and-white stop motion (and shot in thankfully unobtrusive 3-D), the film goes places the original couldn’t, particularly with its creature-feature climax. And at 87 minutes, it hardly feels like a short story stretched too long. There are lessons to be learned here—for Burton especially. Hopefully, it won’t be 30 years before he tackles his next original idea.

 
  • Genres: Animated, Comedy
  • Release Date: Friday, October 12, 2012
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English
  • MPAA Rating: PG [ Action, Scary Images, Thematic Elements ]
  • Critic's Score: B
  • Starring: Catherine O'Hara [Voice of Mrs. Frankenstein/Gym Teacher/Weird Girl], Martin Short [Voice of Mr. Frankenstein/Mr. Bergemeister/Nassor/Dad], Martin Landau [Voice of Mr. Rzykruski], Charlie Tahan [Voice of Victor], Atticus Shaffer [Voice of Edgar], Robert Capron [Voice of Bob], Conchata Ferrell [Voice of Bob's Mom], Winona Ryder [Voice of Elsa Van Helsing], James Liao [Voice of Toshiaki], Tom Kenny [Voice of Fire Chief/Soldier/Townsfolk]
  • Directed by: Tim Burton [Director], John August [Screenwriter], Tim Burton [Producer], Allison Abbate [Producer], Don Hahn [Executive Producer]
  • Visit the Movie Website | Watch the trailer
 

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