“It’s alive! Alive!”
On the surface, Frankenweenie and ParaNorman seem to be different films -one has a re-animated dog while the other deals with a witch and a surprisingly detailed story about our fear and not always judging a book by its cover- while in essence playing off of the Frankenstien’s monster formula. Here are three recurring themes that can be found in both films.
Here’s what’s the same:
Both films start with a film being shown and is used as a point of emphasis to show how lonely our protagonists are. In Frankenweenie, it is a film created by the hero of the film, Victor, with his faithful dog Sparky as the star. In ParaNorman, we find lonely Norman watching a zombie film in a darkened living room while the ghost of his deceased grandmother sits behind him and knits (wait…why is she knitting? Will she get cold?). So we have active and passive actions from both protagonists that convey the same thing: they are lonely coming of age pre-teens.
Throughout both films, Norman wants acceptance and understanding while Victor wants his dog back. Though both characters follow different paths, they both emerge as leaders. Victor has to right the wrongs of all of the school children that stole his re-animation formula, while Norman is the only one that can save the town from the clutches of the witch though empathizing with her about being different than everyone else. Both of them grow up very fast, often leaving the “wiser” adults in the developmental dust.
Both films deal with re-animation. Frankenweenie deals with Sparky being electrocuted back to life, while Norman trying to save the city from certain doom, screws up reading a passage from a book and old decrepit men from the Salem Witch Trials. The plot device of re-animation is used here more for asking deeper philosophical questions like: “ When is it ok to let go of something that you love?” – Frankenweenie ; “Why is it important to not let fear dictate day to day life?” – ParaNorman.
These films offer a glimpse of what some of the many answers can be.
The townspeople are nuts!!! In Frankenweenie, they want to kill the DOG!!! Seriously!? With ParaNorman, the townsfolk scare the dirt out of the zombies! I mean, they’re ready to sacrifice the CHILDREN by lighting the town hall on fire! just to pound their chests and light zombies up! Good god, what is wrong with those people!? Sometimes, mass hysteria scenes like you see in both of these films can make you think about who can be more in control….the kids or the adults?
In all, both films are quite entertaining and do an admirable job of keeping alive the Frankenstein and Zombie//witch folklore, while adding in a little teen angst for good measure. Both films are equally enjoyable with a little something for everyone.
The Scarf’s Rating: