This past Friday I went to see the children’s movie “Frankenweenie.” “Frankenweenie” is the latest cinematic effort by Tim Burton and is kind of a mix of science fiction and fantasy. As such, it comes complete with the dark, somber ambience Burton has developed a reputation for, though, not so horribly dark and terrifying that it would frighten children. It’s a well-developed film with an engaging storyline and fun characters. Perfect for a Halloween outing.
At the center of the story is the young Victor Frankenstein, a brilliant scientist-in-training attending Junior High or so (I guess that makes him about 13 years old). He’s something of an introvert whose only true friend is his pet dog, Sparky. His parents, however, want him to be more sociable and get him involved in a baseball team. This, however, leads to tragedy: At one of Victor’s games there is a horrible accident and Sparky is killed. Victor is depressed for a long time until he gets the idea—inspired by his science class at school—to try to bring his dog back to life. He succeeds, but is unable to keep that success a secret, and the resulting chaos that breaks loose is enough to make your head spin. But it is great fun to watch, as a whole bevy of monster pets break loose and wreak havoc on the small town Victor Frankenstein calls home.
Overall, I found this movie entertaining and worth watching. It is typical Tim Burton: dark and gloomy, but like I said, not so much it’ll scar children. At least, I don’t think so. I do, however, have several complaints about the movie. The first is so minor I’m not even sure I want to complain about it. Basically, a certain young girl in the film performs divination via cat poo. If her cat poos out the first letter in your name in his litter box that means something “big” is going to happen to you. I just wonder if the only way to entertain children is to act childish ourselves. I mean, really? Cat poo? Must we? My next complaint concerns the wrap up of the film at the end (Spoiler Alert). The once-dead dog, Sparky, is killed again at the end of the movie and, with the blessings of the parents, Victor Frankenstein brings the animal back to life yet again. I know kid’s movies are supposed to have “happy endings,” but I’m not sure it is a good idea to implant in them the notion that bringing their pet back to life is the way to go. They (the film-makers) had an opportunity to let the animal go and let him rest in peace, but they brought him back again. Not sure that was a good idea. My final complaint concerns some of the kid’s science experiments in the film and this is, by far, my most significant complaint. There was a lot of manipulating of electricity throughout the film, an unsuccessful attempt to fly off a housetop, and other experiments of questionable safety being performed by young teen-agers for the movie’s audience of children. Maybe I’m being over-protective, but I don’t think that was very wise to include in the movie. Do we really want someone’s kid to think it’s a good idea to fly a kite during a lightning storm? Anyway, you can see where I’m going. I don’t know how Tim Burton could have made the movie without these things, but I’ve noticed in a lot of the children’s movies of recent years that the writers tend to forget who their primary audience is.
Still, it was a good movie and I enjoyed it. I’ll give it four stars.
All right, I was in a silly, childish mood the other day and I went to see “Hotel Transylvania.” It’s an animated kid’s movie. I have to say, I enjoy children’s movies—now that I’m an adult and I don’t care what other people think when I go see a children’s movie (unlike when I was a teenager and wouldn’t be caught dead watching such a flick)…. I think that particular transformation started in college when I saw Aladdin for the first time and thought, “Hey, that’s a pretty good story.”
Anyway, Hotel Transvylvania. It tells the story of Count Dracula (I don’t believe it: I saw a listing of the cast on-line and Dracula was played by Adam Sandler… my mind is just trying to register that; I totally didn’t recognize his voice!), his daughter, Mavis, and her human love interest, Jonathan. Besides Sandler, there are a number of other relatively big names in the film like Kevin James, Steve Buscemi, and John Lovitz among others. Basically, Dracula has had some bad experiences dealing with humans. So, he’s set up a hotel in the middle of nowhere where he, his daughter, and all the other monsters of the world can retreat to for safety and peace. He’s started a whole business on the basis that humans are bad and lead only to terrible things. He’s raised his daughter, Mavis, in the confines of the castle; she’s basically never seen the outside world or had any interaction with any humans at all. He’s raised her and taught her one basic rule: humans are terrible and must be avoided at all costs.
But it is now Mavis’ 118th birthday and she, like any other vampire of such an age (I guess), wants to see the world and experience new things. She’s feeling a little cramped in the castle. And in keeping with the typical teen-parent conflict common in movies, Dracula is intent on keeping his daughter safe at home; he’s also throwing a birthday party for her. All the other monsters of the world are invited: Frankenstein, the werewolf, skeletons, zombies, and more. However, this year there is an uninvited party-crasher: the human, Jonathan, who wanders into the castle on this most momentous of nights. He meets Mavey and the inevitable happens: Jonathan and Mavey hit it off and all sorts of chaos breaks loose.
Criticisms: well, there is some crude humor in the film (flatulence and nose-picking related), and there’s that whole vampire-human relationship thing which is just odd if you really think about it. But this is a kid’s movie, and you’re not supposed to think too deeply about a kid’s movie. Overall, I found it thoroughly enjoyable and worth the hour and a half of time spent watching it.
I’ll give it four stars out of five.