Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie

Written by George Taylor. Posted in Features, The Disney Review

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Published on January 12, 2013 at 4:01 am with 15 Comments

Jeff: Earlier this week, George and I both received our review copies of Tim Burton’s latest film, Frankenweenie. I missed out on seeing it in the theaters, and was excited to finally take a look at it. Having loved the original, live-action short film, I was anxious to see Burton return to the story and expand on it, this time in stop motion glory. About half-way through the movie, I abandoned these high hopes, and was left to wonder “What happened?”


George: I’m a fair-weather Tim Burton fan. When he is on (Beetlejuice, Sleepy Hollow), he is on. I didn’t see this film in the theaters since it honestly didn’t look as entertaining as I wanted it to be. Still, my youngest had a friend over and we microwaved some popcorn and settled in to watch the film. Within minutes, I realized that this is the same film that I’ve seen Tim Burton make over and over again.

Jeff: That seems to be a reoccurring trend lately: Burton re-making films that he has made over and over again. I like Burton’s early work a lot, but his more recent stuff is, quite frankly, uninspired. Which brings us back to Frankenweenie. To be blunt, it’s honestly an incredibly boring movie. So much so that halfway through, I turned to my fiancee to ask if she was enjoying it. Her response was an uninspired “No…we can turn it off.” But we both trudged through to the end of it for the sake of this review. Even more to the point, our ten year old, who will sit through almost anything, kept getting up to see “what everyone else is doing” throughout the film, because he was so bored. So where do we even begin with the problems with this film?

George: For starters, this was a great idea and was executed beautifully as a short film in 1984. The short is included in the set and might be the best part. Frankenweenie seems to get bogged down in developing characters that are out of place or not given enough exposition. My biggest issue is that the characters were, well, ugly. The characters in a Nightmare Before Christmas had appeal and were cute; the characters in Frankenweenie miss the mark totally. I really wanted Sparky to be adorable, even brought back to life, but he was kind of gross.

Jeff: I definitely feel as if the characters were wooden, and weren’t given much room to really be people we could relate to. They were just there. Their strange looks were the only thing we had to clue us into the fact that they were outsiders. On the flip side of that, though, I thought some of the voice acting was great. Martin Short (in multiple roles) and Martin Landau were fantastic. But sadly, they were not enough to carry the entire film.

George: Our final prognosis sounds like it’s going to be the same: get it if you’re a fan of Tim Burton or stop-motion animation. Otherwise, it’s not worth the time.

Jeff: Before we end the review, I really do think it’s worth mentioning a few things. The film takes a hard right turn into “What the hell just happened?” territory for its final act. It was sudden, unexpected, and to me, didn’t seem to jibe with the rest of the film. It just seemed like a big, flashy finale because they needed a “big” conflict to end the film on that came out of nowhere. Also, and this may be pushing it a bit, but I felt like one of the characters was overtly racist. Now, I’m definitely NOT the guy who looks for that kind of stuff, and I’d even go as far as saying I’m kind of “blue” every so often…but this character even made ME squirm a little bit. If you’ve seen the film, you know exactly who I’m talking about.

There are a few extras on the disc, such as the original short film, making of features, and a bit more. But honestly, none of that (aside from the original short) make up for such a terrible film. If you already own The Nightmare Before Christmas on DVD or Blu-Ray, then you already have a copy of the stellar short film, and have no need for this disc.

Did you get a chance to see Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie? What did you think about it?

By Jeff Heimbuch and George Taylor

The Disney Review is written and edited by Jeff Heimbuch and George Taylor

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About George Taylor

George has been obsessed with Disney theme parks since the first time he saw a photo of the Haunted Mansion in the early 70s. He started writing about Disney in 2007 and has amassed one of the world's largest Disney-related libraries.

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Comments for Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie are now closed.

  1. Walt Disney never would have made a film like that. But I do like the Tim Burton art and music on the Haunted Mansion make-over. The Haunted Mansion Holiday is brilliant.

  2. I went to go see this in theaters. It was really great! Cool idea for a story too! Loved how relatable the plot was as well; many people lose a pet, and would give anything to have it
    back… except, in this movie the kid actually does it! lol I liked it a lot!

  3. I disagree with the reviewers. I liked this film a lot. I certainly think it could have been a tad shorter, or tightened up a bit, as some of the scenes were a bit ponderous, but it played with horror archetypes so well, I still had a great time with it.

    Characters were ugly? No, they were just very Burton-esque, and looked very much like his original artwork. And racist? Uh…no.

  4. This review is so off,

    Racist and ugly characters? Boring? Really?

    The characters where so fitting to the story that making them pretty would have completely ruined the movie. They were beautifully designed and perfectly cast. The references to the original horror movies that the story was inspired from was pure genius and not only did it have heart it was only quite funny

  5. I LOVED this film in the theaters. It was an artistic masterpiece. And while the story had a few problems, I found it highly entertaining and quite emotionally touching.

  6. I thought the exact thing about the racist character. This movie dragged and wasn’t entertaining. It had moments and it’s homages were it’s high points, but not enough to buy on disk and I tend to buy EVERY Disney disk.

  7. The cat poop was such a low point…

  8. We have not seen it yet. My daughter had no interest in it.. and she is one who is usually gung-ho about every new movie hawked on the Disney channel, especially if it has anything to do with an animal/pet.. even Hotel Transylvania which I was forced to endure at the theater (NOT recommended for adult viewing, it was positively painful, my dd thought it was ok though). I told her it was out on video and she still is not interested. Not sure what audience they were aiming for, but if it’s 9yr old kids they missed the mark somewhere.

  9. This is fantastic Burton movie. It reminds me of the old movies that made me fall in love with him in the first place (Pee Wee’s Big Adv, Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice). A wonderful homage to the 50′s horror movie classics. Interesting characters and animations. Beautiful score. Heartfelt, emotional and quirky. This will go down as a cult classic.

  10. I enjoyed this film. I agree with the fact that some of the characters were pointless, although they were nice homages to classic horror films (ironically, most of them reminded me of the Universal Classic Monsters). But I liked the film. I think a lot of people didn’t really get the concept that it was supposed to be done in the style of a B-movie, so that’s why the last part of the film seems so out of place. Admittingly there could have been a better transition into the final act rather than all the “undead” pets suddenly turning into oversized monsters, but the effort was good.

    I’ll just say this- Tim Burton’s films are definitely not for everyone, and even amongst Tim Burton fans (myself included), his films can be very hit or miss. While my favorite Burton film is still Nightmare, Frankenweenie is one that I plan to add to my collection and I’ll enjoy watching it for years to come!

    • Another comment- I thought Sparky was a loveable character, even if he looked a little bit twisted. When I went to Disneyland over Thanksgiving, I made a point to look for and purchase a Sparky plush!

      In case anyone’s still looking for one, try New Orleans Square…that’s the only location in the Resort where I was able to find one! Of course, this was a couple months ago so it’s possible that other stores have them back in stock.

  11. Have to agree with much of this review. I was never too thrilled to see this film, even after the 4D preview in DCA, but I figured maybe it was the advertising. Unfortunately, my gut was right on. I didn’t think it was terrible, but it was just middle of the road.

    Probably didn’t help that I had recently seen ParaNorman and thought it was a FAR better film.

  12. I just don’t think this needed to be made into a full length feature. That said, the graphics and animation were awesome, but the first half was so boring, it was difficult to stay awake. On the flipside, the merchandise that was created is great and collectible.

  13. It seems like it’s half and half on this film, just like when it came out to begin with! Some people love it, others, not so much.

    I get that he was going for an homage to classic 50s horror films, I just don’t think he pulled it off that well. In all honesty, I thought ParaNorman was legions above this film

    But thank you to all of you for reading the review and chiming in!

  14. I enjoyed Paranorman, Frankenweenie, Wreck it Ralph, Brave and Rise of the Guardians. It was a great year for character design in animation.
    Paranorman had an interesting comic look, Frankeenweenie a demented Tim Burton large eyed design, Wreck it Ralph had a contrast of old, new and very cartoony video game characters, and Rise of the Gaurdians to a great approach to well known legends.
    If you check out the oscar nominations, all three stop motion films are nominated and that includes Aardman’s Pirate film. Stop motion is making an interesting streak of good films.