(out of 5)
Tim Burton expands his inaugural short film into a delightful, charcoal-hued animated feature. A creative little boy with a desire to excel in science is something of a nuisance to his parents, who have grown tired of their kitchen appliances being destroyed in his experiments. Inspired by a new substitute teacher (Martin Landau) to go beyond the norm, Victor attempts to reanimate dead tissue in his attic laboratory and finds the perfect subject when his beloved dog Sparky is killed in an accident. The pup is resurrected and comes back complete with baseball stitching and morbid hue, but trouble ensues when the success of the project leaks to Victor’s fellow students and science fair competitors, who try it on their own dead pets and end up creating a town full of giant monsters. It’s wonderfully fun, with the monochrome animation enhancing its beauty, though its plot is also marred by Burton’s familiar habit of throwing too much in at the eleventh hour. It does not overstay its welcome, however, and while the characters don’t enter your heart, they do manage to keep your attention. Features warm, quirky voice work from the entire cast, including Winona Ryder, Catherine O’Hara and Martin Short.
Walt Disney Pictures, Tim Burton Productions
Directed by Tim Burton
Cinematography by Peter Sorg
Produced by Allison Abbate, Tim Burton
Music by Danny Elfman
Production Design by Rick Heinrichs