Lisa Frankenstein

Lisa Frankenstein
Lisa Frankenstein
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The classic story of Frankenstein lives on — and on. Jacob Elordi has just been announced to star in Guillermo del Toro’s upcoming movie adaptation, with a Bride of Frankenstein remake starring Annette Bening and various other big names also in the works. Even the Oscar-nominated Poor Things tells bits of Victor’s atrocious tale through its wacky plot. Now, Oscar winner Diablo Cody (the scribe behind Juno) has taken a stab at man creating monster, monster destroying man.

Dubbed by the marketing team as a “coming of rage love story” (directed by Zelda Williams, daughter to the late great Robin), you will quickly pick up that Tim Burton is heavily involved in this new project. Lisa Frankenstein is bonkers and often funny in a laugh-out-loud way that makes you feel uncomfortable about having laughed at it.

Kathryn Newton has been in some highly acclaimed movies — perhaps stronger than Lisa Frankenstein (Lady Bird, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri). But Lisa Swallows is her best role yet. To be honest: This movie will be hit or miss with different demographics. You’ll either love it or hate it, probably. The end result may surprise you being that Focus Features got away with giving this thing a more family-friendly PG-13 rating, but times have changed for the MPAA it appears so who knows what they’re doing anymore.

In this one Newton plays Lisa Swallows, a shy high schooler who gets bullied at home and moves in with her friend/classmate Taffy (Liza Soberano) after Lisa’s dad Dale (Stranger Things star Joe Chrest) links up with Taffy’s mom Janet (Carla Gugino). Each performance is fantastic — a perfectly cast little makeshift family ensemblethat will have you laughing your ass off most of the time. Family friendly movies sometimes fall victim to performances that are over the top to a fault, but with Zelda Williams’ direction and Diablo Cody’s writing this time ‘round, the “over the top” works.

The year is 1989 for this tale — and no there will not be any Taylor Swift musical accompaniment from her acclaimed studio album of the same name. The soundtrack fits more along those lines though, as do the bright costumes that may have you wanting to rummage through your own closet to find something similar. It’s a great blend of popping set design with a morbid edge that screenwriter Cody showcased in 2009’s Jennifer’s Body (a movie she has mentioned being interested in doing a sequel to).

But for now Lisa Frankenstein will do if you’re looking for something like it. In this story high school tropes turn uniquely dark after a supernatural event brings a young man (Cole Sprouse) back to life in a cemetery near Lisa’s house. Sprouse really has come full circle — his character Julian in Big Daddy wanted Adam Sandler to start calling him “Frankenstein.” What a lovely turn of events.

Now Lisa needs to keep school afloat, while hiding this dead guy in addition to dealing with her already-tormented home life thanks to stepmom Janet. By the way, we could write novels about Gugino’s scene-stealing performance here. If Lisa Frankenstein had come out earlier in awards season, there would be an argument for considering her batshit turn a capital-p Performance. Watch as she knocks back a martini at noon while cleaning the house and listening to an “empowering” self-help cassette on retro headphones.

Gugino has been a standout in movies like Spy Kids and Sin City since millennials were young — plus she’s recently dipped into horror with Netflix offerings like Gerald’s Game and The Fall of the House of Usher — so it’s heartwarming to see her continue to dominate the screen, even if it feels like too much of a cameo in Lisa Frankenstein.

As for Cole Sprouse … he holds his own as monster-turned-love interest (Kai? Or is that what Newton is calling him?), speaking volumes through his beautifully terrible romantic actions ‘in the name of love,’ as they say — all little dialogue accounted for. But newton really takes the cake. She is uproariously deadpan throughout. Just do yourself a favor and suspend disbelief as she uses magical tanning beds, grotesque violence and twisted flirtation to not “die a virgin.”

Also delightful is Henry Eikenberry as Michael Trent (the hunk at school Lisa Swallows has been eyeing until supernatural shenanigans send things even further down the drain), and Liza Soberano has quite the bright future ahead of her if she continues leaning into airheaded self-righteous stepsister roles such as this one in her latest movie opposite co-star Liza Soberano

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