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Movie Review: Frankenweenie

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Author/Source: Nancy Keith

Topic: Movie Review, Reviews

A review of Frankenweenie, including description of the movie, areas of concern, teachable themes, discussion questions, and scriptures to use.

Movie Review: <em>Frankenweenie</em>


Victor Frankenstein loves his dog Sparky. He loves him so much but Sparky gets hit by a car, dies and is buried in a pet cemetery. Victor puts together everything that he has learned about energy and electricity in science class, digs, then sews the dead dog up and jolts him with lots of electricity…and viola…Sparky lives. Thinking that Victor has done this for the science fair, and not wishing to be outdone, his classmates bring other pets to life and open up a major can of the unknown.

In 1984 a young animator at Disney made a short movie using real actors based on what the animator, Tim Burton, said was "Based on real feelings about when I was a child with a dog, the Frankenstein movies and mixing those up." Disney nixed the movie saying it was too frightening for kids. Frankenweenie might be frightening to the smallest children, but older ones are likely to enjoy it.

Everyone at Victor’s elementary school is creepy. There are no normal people. What would you expect from Tim Burton? The science teacher, Mr. Rzykruski, is creepy and all the classmates are tributes to different old horror movie monsters. Creepy, but not scary…they are more on the corny side. Some are just downright funny! Mr. Rzykruski is a captivating teacher who says, “Science is not good or bad but it can be used both ways.”

As for bringing the dog and other pets “back to life?” They prefer to call it regenerating. There is nothing spiritual attached to it. There is no creation of life. It is presented as science using a huge jolt of electricity to jump start pets back to life. Victor’s father says, “Crossing the boundary between life and death is very upsetting.”

When I was young we spent almost every Saturday mornings at the movies. Your parents just dropped you off, and the theater was filled with children and few adults. We watched all kinds of movies, but none of them first run. This movie really is a throwback to the old horror movies, which by today’s standards are not horrible at all. It is more like riding a rolling coaster with the fear of that first hill and the thrill riding it to the end.



A lot of things that happen in this movie happen off-screen. When Victor sews Sparky back together, we only see the finished product not what would have been a gruesome act. Children dig up their dead pets to regenerate them. We see that but it is kind of funny. When the over-sized regenerated pets cause mass destruction in the town of New Holland we don’t see it happen, just the aftermath. It can be a bit macabre at times.

Other than an “Oh, Gee!” there is no language in the film. There is no sexual content.

Victor does lie to his parents about what he is doing in the attic which probably speaks volumes to the fact that parents should check on their children from time to time to see if they are trying to regenerate a pet or something more diabolical.

Oh, and the Sea Monkeys drink beer. Not to worry, though, because after your kids see the movie they are likely to never want Sea Monkeys again. A cat swallows a bat as it is regenerated and becomes a very scary morphed creature.

Teachable Themes


  • Only God Can Give Life
      I don’t think any child except maybe the youngest would think that this regeneration would work, but I would keep the car battery jump starter away from Fluffy!
  • Bad Things Do Happen
      Yes, we would like to insulate our kids, but there are sad things that happen in our lives. The death of a pet is a big one.
  • Trying to Fix Our Own Problems Can Lead to Bad Consequences
      Discussing problems with parents, teachers and other trusted adults can bring better solutions to our problems.
  • Don’t lie.
      It is not good to lie.

Biblical References
While there are no Biblical references in this film, these could be applied:

    Only God Gives Life
    • Genesis 2:7 “Then the LORD God formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being.” (NLT)
    Only God Can Bring Life Back
    • John 11 Lazarus
    • Luke 8:40-42 Jairus’ daughter
    Turn to God When You are Scared
    • Psalm 61:1-3 “O God, listen to my cry! Hear my prayer! From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety, for you are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me.” (NLT)
    Don’t Lie
    • Proverbs 17:20 “The crooked heart will not prosper; the lying tongue tumbles into trouble.” (NLT)
    • Proverbs 19:5 “A false witness will not go unpunished, nor will a liar escape.” (NLT)
    Find Wise Counsel When You Don’t Know What to Do
    • Proverbs 19:20 "Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life." (NLT)

Discussion Questions:

  • What was the saddest thing that ever happened to you?
  • What is scariest thing that ever happened to you?
  • Tell me something about your pet.
  • Who do you go to when things aren’t going right?
  • Why is lying not a good thing to do?


Many Christians will look at the trailer for this movie and think it is evil. While I am not telling you to run out and see it, I am saying it is not the movie you think it is. It is funny and scary but in the end you realize that kids do not always have the wisdom to make the right choices. I find it hard to believe that most children would believe there is reality in the events that take place in New Holland. In the end this family “horror” movie, Frankenweenie, might be a fun choice.

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