Story

Victor Frankenstein (voice of Charlie Tahan) is a very intelligent and creative young boy, who is passionate about making movies and inventing things. Victor is a loner and unpopular at school, and his only friend and companion is his pet dog Sparky (voice of Frank Welker). Victor’s favourite teacher is his science teacher, Mr Rzykruski (voice of Martin Landau), who teaches him about lightning and electricity. When Mr Rzykruski sets the class a science project with a major prize, classmates compete fiercely to win.

Disaster strikes when Sparky is run over and killed by a car during a baseball game. Victor is devastated – until he comes up with a plan to reanimate Sparky’s corpse. Victor goes to the pet cemetery, digs up Sparky’s corpse and takes it home. Using all the knowledge about electricity he’s got from Mr Rzykruski’s science classes, Victor invents a machine. He uses it during an electrical storm to reanimate Sparky’s corpse, and all goes well at first. Victor decides to keep Sparky’s reanimation a secret, but when one of Victor’s classmates, Edgar ‘E’ Gore (voice of Atticus Shaffer), discovers Victor’s secret, Victor’s world quickly begins to spin out of control.

Edgar blackmails Victor into revealing how he reanimated Sparky. Edgar tells several of his classmates about Victor’s discovery. Intent on winning the science competition, Edgar and several other students dig up their long-dead pets and reanimate them with terrible consequences. Victor manages to put everything back in order, but not without personal cost.

Themes

Death of a pet; reanimation; intolerance

Violence

Frankenweenie contains some macabre animated violence, mainly inflicted on animals. At times the violence has a comical side or is presented in a slapstick way, but the movie also has scenes of violence combined with peril involving animals and children. For example:

  • A man snaps hedge trimmers in a threatening way at a young boy’s face.
  • At a park during a baseball game, Victor hits a baseball, which his dog Sparky chases. The dog runs onto the road. There is a thud, and a car comes to a sudden stop (the car hitting the dog isn’t shown). Victor shouts out ‘Noooo’, and his parents hold him back. Sparky is dead, and Victor is distraught, with tears running down his cheeks.
  • A young boy wearing roller skates stands on a roof with large fizzy drink bottles strapped to his back. A second boy simultaneously pulls all the corks from the bottles. The roller skate-wearing boy is propelled along the roof and falls to the ground screaming. Later he has his arm in a sling because he broke his arm in the fall.
  • A giant turtle-like monster rampages through a town. It stamps on a police car and crushes it before stamping on some buildings. The monster stamps on and kills a reanimated hamster and then picks up a phone booth in its mouth. Victor’s parents are in the phone booth, but they escape unhurt. The monster picks up a young boy in its mouth. The boy also escapes unhurt when the monster is electrocuted and reverts back to a small harmless turtle.
  • A giant rat terrorises a gym teacher, chasing her through the town’s streets.Some reanimated sea monkeys chase after and terrorise a young boy and townspeople.
  • In a scene reminiscent of the 1930s Frankenstein movie, angry townspeople carry flaming torches, shout ‘Kill the monster’ and chase Sparky and Victor. The mob chases the pair into a windmill, which is accidentally set on fire and engulfed in flames. Victor, a young girl and Sparky are trapped at the top of the windmill. The girl manages to swing to safety while Sparky drags Victor unconscious from the burning building. Sparky is dragged back inside the burning windmill by a reanimated cat/bat creature. Later a fireman carries Sparky’s corpse from the burnt-out windmill.
  • A cat/bat creature is killed when it is speared through the back by a falling burning stake.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5

In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under five years. For example:

  • Many of the characters look like characters from classic horror movies. For example, Edgar ‘E’ Gore has a hunchback and buck teeth, and he speaks in a slurring, creepy voice. Another young child has a flat-topped head and looks like the Frankenstein monster.
  • In scenes that echo the original Frankenstein movie, Victor goes to a pet cemetery, digs up the remains of his dead dog Sparky, takes him home and rebuilds him. After stitching up Sparky, Victor screws large bolts into the dog’s neck and then attaches electrical cables. He brings the dog to life by exposing him to a thunder storm.
  • After Sparky is reanimated, he is a mismatched patchwork of sewn-together parts. At times various parts of Sparky’s body fall off, including his tail and an ear. No blood and gore are shown.
  • Some young children reanimate several dead pets, and the pets take on monstrous characteristics. A cat and a bat are transformed into a single vicious, scary-looking creature with a mouth full of sharp fangs. 

From 5-8

Children in this age group are also very likely to be disturbed by the scenes mentioned above. 

From 8-13

Younger children in this age group might also be scared by some of the scenes mentioned above. 

Over 13

This movie should be OK for this age group. 

Sexual references

None of concern

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

This movie shows some use of substances. For example:

  • One scene shows two glasses of red wine on a dinner table.
  • A gang of gremlin-like creatures pour beer from a keg and drink it, leaving a large puddle of beer on the ground.

Nudity and sexual activity

This movie shows occasional mild flirting. For example:

  • Victor’s parents kiss briefly.
  • Sparky and a female dog sniff each in a mildly flirtatious way. Later they touch noses and an electrical charge happens between them.
  • A young girl show a romantic interest in Victor, who tries to avoid her. 

Product placement

None of concern 

Coarse language

This movie has some mild coarse language and name-calling. 

Ideas to discuss with your children

Frankenweenie is an animated horror comedy by Tim Burton. The movie has numerous references and similarities to classic old horror movies such as Frankenstein and Dracula. As a result, it has scary images and frightening scenes that make it unsuitable for children under nine. It does, however, include some clever humour and tender moments that older children and adults are likely to enjoy.

The main message from this movie is that science can be used for both good and evil purposes. It’s up to you to make the choice.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include the following:

  • Love of pets: Victor shows great love and affection for his pet dog Sparky. This love inspires Victor to reanimate Sparky, and Sparky’s reanimation is a success. The other children who reanimate their dead animals do so for selfish reasons, and their pets reanimate as monsters.
  • Parental love and support: throughout the movie, Victor’s parents show their love for their son in many ways.