This morning I saw Frankenweenie, an animated feature by Tim Burton.
Victor Frankenstein (Charlie Tahan) only has one true friend—his dog Sparky. He doesn't really play outside or interact with other kids, but Sparky is always there to star in his home movies and keep him company.
When the dog dies in an Owen Meany-ish accident at the ball park, the world as Victor knows it crumbles.
Inspired by a lesson taught by his new science teacher, Mr. Rzykruski (Martin Landau), he successfully brings Sparky back to life in what seems to be an homage to the classic Bride of Frankenstein with a wink toward Back to the Future (there's a lot of relying-on-lightning-striking here). The whole process is a nostalgic treat to watch.
Another classmate who is short on friends soon finds out about this magical result and threatens to tell everyone that Sparky is alive unless Victor shares his scientific secret with him. He complies and soon, despite the promises of discretion, the word is out.
Of course the experiment doesn't work the same way for everyone, and soon they have a catastrophe on their hands (I especially liked the giggling sea monkeys).
This is the only part of the film that I would hesitate to let small children see. Some of the animals that leap out on to the screen are quite menacing and the whole film is a dark black and white, which lays a grim visual landscape from the start.
I wouldn't say this is Burton's best film, as the pacing is slow in a few places and the predictability is very high.
But it is a sweet story about a boy and the dog he loves, and who could resist that?