I have been dying to see Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie since I first saw a preview back in October of last year. I never had the chance to see it in theaters, but it’s finally released on DVD and I didn’t wait another second to watch it. This movie is not at all what I expected, and that’s both good and bad. I loved this movie but it also devastated me to watch it.
The picture you see is of my dogs Ren and Lucy. I confess, I am a dog lady and like any pet owner, I love my dogs like they are family. Victor Frankenstein (no not that one) is on the same level with me on this subject. Victor (voiced by Charlie Tahan) and his dog Sparky are inseparable, so much so that his parents (voiced by Martin Short and Catherine O’Hara) are a bit concerned that he isn’t making any real friends.
When the new teacher Mr. Rzykruski (voiced by Martin Landau) announces the annual science fair, Victor quickly asks his dad to sign the permission slip so he can get to work. His father explains that if he wants to do the science fair he has to give another activity a try, so baseball is chosen. Victor isn’t exactly the athletic type but he gives it a shot to make his dad happy. In an adorable scene, Sparky runs past Victor before he can hit the ball and catches it in his mouth and, in order to keep the game moving, Victor is forced to tie Sparky up. He’s about to strike out when on his last swing he hits a home run. Like most dogs, Sparky broke his leash and ran after a ball that he probably assumed was meant for him to fetch.
This may or may not be a SPOILER, but Sparky gets hit by a car while chasing after the ball and dies. This is the first (and not the last) instance of me losing it and crying my eyes out. Heartbroken over the loss of his friend, Victor gets an idea from his teacher about how to bring Sparky back. He conducts an experiment, much like the one that was performed in the classic tale of Frankenstein, and brings his dog back to life. It’s a miracle (and I cried again. I know, I’m a wimp).
Bringing your dead dog back to life isn’t exactly something you want to broadcast right away; people might take it the wrong way. Sparky is forced to hide in the attic until Victor can come up with a plan, but Sparky manages to escape and gets spotted by a classmate named Edgar (voiced by Atticus Shaffer). In order for Edgar to keep his secret, Victor must show him how he brought Sparky back but if Victor expected him to keep a secret, he thought wrong. Edgar’s inability to keep a secret may just be the end of him and the rest of the town.
The movie also features Winona Ryder as Elsa Van Helsing, a neighbor of Victor who happens to have a dog named Persephone that sparks (no pun intended) the interest of Victor’s dog.
Without giving too much away, I have to say I must have cried through 95% of that movie, but still really enjoyed it. I think being a dog lover and owner played to my empathetic side about losing something you love (and that loves you) unconditionally. Being a Tim Burton film also gave Frankenweenie a little dark humor and some edge, which I enjoyed. The soundtrack was also a plus for me. Dog lovers be warned: if you are as attached as me or Victor to your dog, you may shed some tears, too.
Written by: Katie Sperduti