When Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie hits theaters this Friday, it will open to mostly positive reviews from the nation’s top critics. At the time of this writing, the film, which finds the director re-teaming with a number of his former colleagues, is enjoying at Rotten Tomatoes score of 84 percent. This number, of course, could waver a bit between now and tomorrow morning.
In his review for the McClatchy-Tribune News Service, critic Roger Moore said Frankenweenie is “darned near an instant classic. Tim Burton has taken the animated short that launched his career and expanded it into a vivid and moving essay on science and love — the love between a budding scientist in middle school and his dog.”
USA Today reviewer Claudia Puig shared Moore’s feelings about the film, explaining the film is a potential Halloween classic in the making. “It is also a beautifully crafted homage to classic horror films, a study of grief and a commentary on the mysteries of science and those who narrow-mindedly fear its advances. Drawing on director Tim Burton’s trademark fascination with the macabre, the tale is leavened with a touching sweetness and sharp wit,” she explained.
Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune, meanwhile, wasn’t a entranced by Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie as some of the other critics who have already weighed in. Phillips, who claims he was fan of the original 30-minute short, felt that too many of the element from Burton’s previous features are found lurking in his latest big screen adventure.
“The balance has been tipped toward horror this time, too far for my taste,” Phillips explained. “The monster-movie component of ‘Frankenweenie’ stomps all over the appeal of the original 30-minute version. The pathos seems misjudged and a little ruthless; without the proper mixture of chills and whimsy, poor Sparky’s fate(s) come close to ‘Vertigo’ territory, which is ambitiously morbid territory indeed.”
Of course, when it comes to family movies, reviews usually don’t matter much in the long run. Were that the case, chances are The Smurfs wouldn’t have made nearly as much money as it did during its theatrical jaunt. Given the Halloween spirit most people have during the month of October, Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie will probably make a mint at the box office.