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Movie Reviews : Tim Burton's Deft 'Frankenweenie'

March 06, 1992|KEVIN THOMAS and 'Frankenweenie' and Shelley Duvall: Susan Frankenstein and Daniel Stern: Ben Frankenstein and Barret Oliver: Victor Frankenstein and A Buena Vista release of a Walt Disney Pictures presentation. Director Tim Burton. Producer Julie Hickson. Screenplay Lenny Ripps, from an idea by Burton. Cinematographer Thomas Ackerman. Editor Ernest Milano. Music Michael Convertino, David Newman. Art director John B. Mansbridge. Running time: 29 minutes. and MPAA-rated PG.

Playing with "Blame It on the Bellboy" only at the El Capitan on Hollywood Boulevard is Tim Burton's 29-minute "Frankenweenie" (1984), which is such an inspired, deft pleasure that it is almost worth the price of admission-- almost because of today's steep ticket prices and because "Bellboy" is not that good.

Shot in a luminous black-and-white, "Frankenweenie" anticipates subsequent Burton features--"Beetlejuice" and "Edward Scissorhands" in particular--in its love of the poignancy of old horror movies. Inspired by a school experiment on a frog, a small boy (Barret Oliver) turns the attic of his family's home into a lab rigged up with household electrical appliances with which he intends to bring his beloved but recently deceased dog Sparky back to life. (It's not for nothing that his family's name is Frankenstein.)

"Frankenweenie," written by Lenny Ripps from an idea by Burton, is a subtle parable on the fear of the unknown. It has terrific style, an appropriately thunderous score (by Michael Convertino and David Newman) and boasts Shelley Duvall and Daniel Stern as the boy's initially perplexed parents.

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