The plot to Frankenweenie is deceptively simple: Boy loves dog. Dog loves boy. Dog dies tragically. Boy brings dog back to life. Neighbors remember being forced to read Frankenstein in High School and FREAK.
Let’s be fair though, when your neighbors look like this “Mad Sciencing” shouldn’t be that much of a surprising hobby.
I went and saw this at the theatre when it originally came out. Having had my mom rent me the original short quite a few times when I was younger, I was a little hesitant to go see it. But I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by it. Actually, I’ll go so far as to say it’s down right adorable. I was quite pleased.
The plot is essentially the same as the original 30-minute short film. It’s just got an extra 97 minutes added to it to make it feature length. Scenes are lengthened and characters are fleshed out. It’s all very well done. It also takes it a bit longer for Sparky to meet his untimely end in this version, which I approve of. It gives you more time to become attached, and then ultimately upset, when the inevitable happens.
Really, the biggest change is the added Science Fair plot, which introduces us to more characters at the beginning of the film than were in the original, and ends up turning the movie into more of an homage of monster movies in general, rather than just a more modern take on the Frankenstein story. Some of it gets a little out of hand towards the end, but nothing that happens crosses the line of “This doesn’t fit into a Tim Burton film.” You see where everything is going, but I do wish they’d gone in a bit of a different direction with that particular sub-plot.
One thing I don’t like about both versions is how the parents reaction is “He brought his beloved dog back from the dead. I can’t believe he did that! I suppose we can’t punish him for it, though…” What the hell, parents? I know you’re probably in a bit of shock and all, but your first thought is to ground him? Seriously? Shouldn’t it be something closer to, “holy crap our kid just did something awesome!” Not, ohmygodwhatwereyouthinking?
And why would one think it was a good idea to re-introduce the neighbors to your Frankendog the night after he just freaked everyone out? Wouldn’t it make more sense to wait a couple of days for the hubbub to die down? I would think so.
Still, it’s a fun little movie (well, they both are, really), and if you liked the original short, or have kids that you know won’t be freaked out by the premiss, than you might want to look into it.
Both versions of Frankenweenie are available on a variety of streaming services, most notably Disney+.
They are also available on DVD and Bluray.