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Is it really for kids? Oh my, yes — kids 8 and up or so, and their parents and grandparents and cousins. “Frankenweenie” is scary, but then it’s funny, and, finally, it’s moving, both in its foolproof boy-meets-dog sentimentality and in the ease with which Burton connects the dots of his own history and that of the movies he cherishes.
The most critical forebear, obviously — Burton’s beloved ur-text — is “Frankenstein,” the 1931 cinematic classic that loosed Karloff and the iconic figure of the Frankenstein monster upon the world. From the bolts on Sparky’s neck to the clanking chains that lift the operating table to the lightning above, from the mob to the windmill, “Frankenweenie” resuscitates director James Whale’s baroque vision and makes it resonate for a new generation. If your children groove on this film, by all that is unholy sit them down with the original and watch their eyes go bigger than Weird Girl’s as they do the pop-culture math. Burton has created a literal “Young Frankenstein,” and . . . it’s alive.
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