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frankenweenieTim Burton can make movies that are visually stunning. Unfortunately, they’re usually not very interesting films otherwise.

It’s nice to see that he went from doing all the remakes, to remaking his own story Frankenweenie. It was a short he did in 1984 and the love and affection he has for this story just oozes out of it.

It’s the tale of a boy and his dog. The appropriately named pooch (Sparky) gets hit by a car and needs a bolt of lightning to be brought back to life. Who would’ve guessed a dog could still be cute with scars, stitches, and a tail that falls off if he gets excited and wags.

The stop-motion animation was a blast, and the black and white 3D was interesting. Especially since the picture pays homage to so many old horror films. I was glad I brought a friend (shout out to Francesca Miller) who pointed out many of the references I missed. There was a turtle named Shelley (Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein), a creature transforming that was like something from An American Werewolf in London, and a science teacher that had a Vincent Price vibe (voiced by Martin Landau, who was so great in Burton’s overrated Ed Wood).

Francesca talked about seeing it again just for any references she may have missed (One scene I missed as I listened to a couple leaving – a theatre showing Bambi as the dog was being hit by the car).

I was pleasantly surprised by ParaNorman last month, and this is similar in many ways. One being that they are little scary for the young children (this is rated PG). ParaNorman was a bit better, too.

Catherine O’Hara and Martin Short provided multiple voices for the film, and Burton regular Winona Ryder has a nice role.

It was fun to have a movie with subtle messages that didn’t feel preachy. At one point the science teacher tells the eager young boy after he loses his job, “They like the things science gives them, but not the questions science asks.”

There’s one scene that had the whole theatre in stitches (no pun intended). It involved a creepy girl telling victor her cat Mr. Whiskers had a dream about him. It’s rather disgusting, but hysterical.

Danny Elfman is of course doing the score and although the movie tries a bit too hard, it mostly succeeds. And best of all – no animals were harmed in the filming (although the frog does get fried).

It gets 3 stars out of 5.