Directed by Tim Burton
In Tim Burton's world, even the architecture is lonely. Below the clouds’ margin, a creaky windmill on a hill overlooks a uniformly one-story suburb. Here, 10-year-old Victor Frankenstein (Charlie Tahan) lives for Sparky, a big-hearted bull terrier who stars in the boy's Super-8 monster movies. Victor’s parents would prefer him to spend more time on sports; in this sun-stoned 1950s town, where everybody shares either name or face with a classic Hollywood monster, this kid is some kind of outsider.
After he hits a freak home run, Sparky runs to catch the ball but is run down by an Oldsmobile. Grief-stricken but inspired by Mr. Rzykruski, his spindly science teacher (Martin Landau), Victor reanimates the dog by electrocuting its corpse in the attic. John August’s nimble script expands on the premise of Burton's classic 1984 live-action short, long available on the Nightmare Before Christmas DVD, in ways consistent with Disney schmaltz. But he's also, at times, surprisingly toothy. (One tombstone in the pet cemetery reads “GOODBYE KITTY.”)
Frankenweenie opens with the studio's iconic castle rendered, in a solitary burst of lightning, in ominous grayscale with screeching church organs. It's a barbed riff on the Disney empire, sure, but also a kind of throwing-down on the director’s part. After several lost years reupholstering other musty properties, Burton has brought it all back home.
Opens October 5