Rated: PG

        As a fan of most everything Tim Burton’s ever done, I knew as soon as I saw the first ad for Frankenweenie that I wanted to see it. With some of Burton’s movies taking on an eccentric quality over the past few years, Frankenweenie will undoubtly go down as one of his best, if not the best movie he’s ever made.
        This movie follows the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist whose only true friend is his dog Sparky. After his father encourages him to go out for the baseball team, a terrible accident occurs, causing Sparky to lose his life. Heartbroken at the loss of his beloved dog, Victor decides to get to work, bringing Sparky back to life. Having an idea of how people will react to his handiwork, Victor tries his best to hide Sparky. But when Sparky escapes and is discovered, disaster quickly ensues; as Victor’s classmates attempt to recreate Victor’s result for the science fair. Their results are far more monstrous.
        Tim Burton pays homage to several old classics throughout
Frankenweenie. The main character is named Victor Frankenstein and is a genius scientist, an obvious tribute to the 1931 classic Frankenstein. Victor’s neighbor and the mayor of the town is Mr. Burgemeister, an obvious reference to the Rankin-Bass classic Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town. Victor’s science fair partner is Edgar E. Gore, and looks an awful lot like Igor, Dr. Frankenstein’s assistant. And Victor’s classmate Bob looks amazingly similar to Frankenstein’s monster. Burton also made sure that his own trademark was evident in this film. In Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride at least one character had things “sewn” together, and this movie was no different. In this one it’s Sparky that’s always to have things stitched back on. It’s an odd trademark, but yet I can’t imagine these movies without it.
        I was happy to see that Burton was able to get Danny Elfman to do the music for
Frankenweenie. While he’s perhaps best known for the music in “The Simpsons” series, Elfman has done work on many animated features; including most of Burton’s other stop-animated films.  This movie would not have had the same heart and feeling if anyone else had done the music for it.
Frankenweenie is one of the best animated films, and the best Tim Burton film I’ve seen in a long time. The usual choppiness of stop animation is non-existent in this movie, giving it an eerily smooth look. But it wasn’t just the smooth animation that made this a great film. Burton was able to achieve more emotion in this movie than I ever think I’ve seen in an animated film. I laughed, I cried, I was touched and I got angry during parts. These aren’t things normally attributed to watching a cartoon, and it was impressive that this movie was able to pull it off so easily.
        Another thing I really liked about F
rankenweenie is that, unlike most other Disney movies, there are realistic messages aimed at children. Instead of “everyone’s a winner because they tried,” this movie had “it’s ok to fail, as long as you keep trying”. In one scene, where the science teacher is giving a speech to the parents of the town, he says “Your country doesn’t make enough scientists and engineers,” which is true. I’m always hearing on the news about how those are the fields with jobs available and lots of growth, yet there aren’t enough qualified people to fill them and how our children just keep falling further and further behind the rest of the world in science and math, especially the girls. I’m just happy that Disney finally stepped up to the plate to push more realistic life lessons. Hopefully this isn’t a one-time thing and we’ll start to see more and more of it.

        The only “bad” thing I can say about this movie is that people with children who scare easily shouldn’t allow them to see it. There are some parts that even I thought were pretty scary. Otherwise I think this is a great family film and I encourage everyone to see it, whether you’re a kid, or just a kid at heart.

Frankenweenie is rated PG, was directed by Tim Burton and stars Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short, Winona Ryder, Martin Landau and Charlie Tahan. Its available now on Blu Ray, DVD and digital download.