Grief, death, and resurrection aren't exactly standard themes in children's films — but when it comes to Tim Burton movies, we've come to expect the unconventional. Frankenweenie, Burton's well-reviewed stop-motion movie, which hits theaters Friday, is rated PG — but its macabre storyline, which centers on a boy who revives his dead dog a la Frankenstein, has led some parents to worry that the movie may be unsettling for younger viewers. (Watch a trailer below.) Of course, Burton is no stranger to claymation creepies, having produced The Nightmare Before Christmas and directed Corpse Bride. But does the new film take Burton's taste for the twisted too far?
It's too sweet too be scary: The release of the gentle, genial Frankenweenie alongside fellow spooky kids movies like ParaNorman and Hotel Transylvania has made this "the best scary season kids have had in recent memory," says Elizabeth Weitzman at the New York Daily News. And while Burton's tone is somewhat dark, "there are no gratuitous scares or elbow-nudging ironies." Frankenweenie may look a little creepy, but families who give it a chance will find that it's "packed with visual delights for all ages."
"Movie review: Frankenweenie"
Actually, it's kind of creepy: Frakenweenie "may confound children expecting something bright, light, and colorful," says James Berardinelli at ReelViews. And "some of the creations in this stop-motion nightmare may frighten young children." Another issue: The film's reliance on classic horror film tropes from movies like 1931's Frankenstein, which most kids haven't seen. Frankenweenie was marketed as a children's film, but its greatest impact will be on "sophisticated kids and older viewers."
"Movie review: Frankenweenie"
Kids should see it, even if it is scary: Of course Frankenweenie is a little creepy, says Drew McWeeny at HitFix. It "deals quite directly with the trauma of seeing a beloved pet die." But Burton makes sure that the film handles that traumatizing event with "taste and tact," and Frankenweenie speaks about love and loss in a way that children will be able to understand and appreciate. Kids and adults alike will laugh at the film's "sly verbal wit" and find endearing its "sincere sentiment."
"Review: Frankenweenie may be one of Tim Burton's most personal films"
Consensus: Frankenweenie might be too scary for some young kids, but the vast majority should find little to fear in this witty, surprisingly sweet film.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How U.S. special forces are preparing for the worst-case scenario in North Korea
- Why you should really take a nap this afternoon, according to science
- Why you shouldn't eat dog. Not even once.
- Why Israel can no longer let the Palestinian Authority be responsible for security in the West Bank
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- How social conservatives became a minority in need of protection
- The safest seats are at the back of the plane — and 5 other surprising facts about airline crashes
- Why charity can't solve society's deepest problems
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
Subscribe to the Week