A year before “Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman”, there was “Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein” To be completely honest, this one does not have the same nostalgia factor for me as the Wolfman one. I just didn’t watch this one as much when I was younger.
This movie opens about in a European town over a hundred years ago and shows Frankenstein’s Monster walking through the streets as an angry mob goes to confront his creator. Dr. Frankenstein denies using stolen body parts to create his monster and strangely the mob dispurses.
Fast forward to the present-day (present day-ish, more like the late 1980s), and our favorite chipmunks are performing at a themepark that seems to be a legally distinct combination of Disneyland and Universal Studios. After the show, Alvin decides to hijack a tram to take the boys across the park to the most exciting roller coaster this particular park has to offer, “Dragonland”, (sidenote, the PBS show “Dragon Tales” was a favorite of mine when I was little so there was a part of me that couldn’t take Alvin seriously when he described Dragonland as a scary place.) The boys inevitably get ticked off the tram, get lost, miss their next show, and get locked in the park after closing.
Meanwhile, a park manager named Mr. Yesman, fires the guy playing Frankenstein’s monster in the park’s haunted house attraction in favor of bringing in a “monster expert from Europe” who turns out to be the real Dr. Frankenstein. He brings his monster back to life and the monster chases the Chipmunks around for a while until they manage to escape from the park.
The monster follows the boys home to return Theodore’s teddybear, which he had dropped on his mad dash home. Through this act of kindness, the boys, first Theodore, then Alvin and Simon, figure out that Frankenstien’s monster isn’t much of a monster at all. They name him Frankie and start teaching him how to make friends and how to act around other people.
Furious, Dr. Frankenstein kidnap’s Alvin to use as the basis for his next creation, can Simon, Theodore, and Frankie save Alvin in time?
This movie’s animation isn’t as good as its werewolf-based counterpart. Both movies take place in the same universe as the Alvin and the Chipmunks TV series from the 80’s and just based on the animation alone, I have to wonder if this was really intended as a movie or as a Halloween special based on that series.
That said, I do enjoy the direction they went with Frankenstein’s monster, as a misunderstood, oversized child, who simply had no frame of reference for how to interact with normal people. For anyone who has read the novel, you know that, that, and being scary looking to the point where most people would run away, is pretty accurate. In both iterations of the story with just a little practice and some kindness thrown his way, Frankenstein’s monster isn’t really a monster at all. This effectively drives home the old “don’t judge a book by its cover” message, but also makes an equally important point about human nature, that if everyone thinks of and treats someone has a monster, that’s what they’ll most likely become, bullying, judgement, and abandonment bring out the worst in people, but with just a little kindness shown by others around that person it doesn’t have to be that way. This movie manages to illustrate this without being preachy about it.
Given that this is not only a worthwhile message, but one that I, personally, wouldn’t see again in a family film until Frozen came out in 2013, I commend it for that.