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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Frankenweenie

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Animated character Edgar is seen in the movie "Frankenweenie."
Director Tim Burton's gothic comedy "Frankenweenie" (Disney) is a skillful 3-D animated spoof of horror conventions built around the heart-warming relationship between a boy and his dog.

This black-and-white, stop-motion cartoon—an expanded version of Burton's 1984 live-action short of the same title—might prove too scary for small fry. But it will delight their older siblings and amuse parents as well.

After his beloved pet Sparky is killed in an accident, socially isolated but scientifically gifted Victor Frankenstein (voice of Charlie Tahan) uses stock monster-movie methods to bring the pooch back to life.

Despite his subsequent efforts to conceal his breakthrough from his parents (voices of Catherine O'Hara and Martin Short) and from his peers—voiced, among others, by Atticus Shaffer and James Hiroyuki Liao—Victor's secret gets out. And when his schoolmates try to emulate his feat, the results are temporarily disastrous.

Said classmates constitute an odd assortment of entertainingly eerie figures, including pint-sized versions of characters long ago made famous by Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre. Another familiar genre persona, the Weird Girl (also voiced by O'Hara), becomes the vehicle for the only material in the picture that some might consider objectionable.

The Weird Girl believes that her cat, Mr. Whiskers, is given to prophetic dreams, and that the subject of each dream can be identified by the fact that Mr. Whiskers' droppings afterward form the first initial of that person's name. The Weird Girl relates all this—visual aid included—to indicate to Victor that something dramatic is about to happen to him.

Victor's interest in experimentation is sparked by his Vincent Price-like science teacher, Mr. Rzykruski (voice of Martin Landau). Though a subplot involves Mr. Rzykruski's persecution at the hands of ignorant townsfolk, there's no direct connection drawn between their fear of him and their adherence to any form of supernatural belief, religious or otherwise. And while Mr. Rzykruski praises the value of science at some length, he never does so to the disparagement of faith.

The light-hearted tone of John August's screenplay, moreover, together with the less-than- scientifically plausible events on which so much of the plot turns, make it doubtful that any serious point is being made—apart, perhaps, from a general endorsement of learning in the broadest sense.

The film contains mild scatological humor and some science-fiction hokum. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I—general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG—parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.



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Anthony Grassi: Anthony’s father died when his son was only 10 years old, but the young lad inherited his father’s devotion to Our Lady of Loreto. As a schoolboy he frequented the local church of the Oratorian Fathers, joining the religious order when he was 17.
<p>Already a fine student, he soon gained a reputation in his religious community as a "walking dictionary" who quickly grasped Scripture and theology. For some time he was tormented by scruples, but they reportedly left him at the very hour he celebrated his first Mass. From that day, serenity penetrated his very being.
</p><p>In 1621, at age 29, Anthony was struck by lightning while praying in the church of the Holy House at Loreto. He was carried paralyzed from the church, expecting to die. When he recovered in a few days he realized that he had been cured of acute indigestion. His scorched clothes were donated to the Loreto church as an offering of thanks for his new gift of life.
</p><p>More important, Anthony now felt that his life belonged entirely to God. Each year thereafter he made a pilgrimage to Loreto to express his thanks.
</p><p>He also began hearing confessions, and came to be regarded as an outstanding confessor. Simple and direct, he listened carefully to penitents, said a few words and gave a penance and absolution, frequently drawing on his gift of reading consciences.
</p><p>In 1635 he was elected superior of the Fermo Oratory. He was so well regarded that he was reelected every three years until his death. He was a quiet person and a gentle superior who did not know how to be severe. At the same time he kept the Oratorian constitutions literally, encouraging the community to do likewise.
</p><p>He refused social or civic commitments and instead would go out day or night to visit the sick or dying or anyone else needing his services. As he grew older, he had a God-given awareness of the future, a gift which he frequently used to warn or to console.
</p><p>But age brought its challenges as well. He suffered the humility of having to give up his physical faculties one by one. First was his preaching, necessitated after he lost his teeth. Then he could no longer hear confessions. Finally, after a fall, he was confined to his room. The archbishop himself came each day to give him holy Communion. One of Anthony’s final acts was to reconcile two fiercely quarreling brothers.</p> American Catholic Blog God of love, as I come to the end of this Advent season, my heart is ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus. I join with Mary in saying, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Nothing is impossible with you, O God.

 
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