Film Review: Baby Frankenstein

Jon YonKondy (Don Quixote) directs this uneven family horror comedy. Despite the deceptive poster art which implies an evil, bloodthirsty titular protagonist, there’s nothing truly horrific in this film apart from some of the dialogue. Instead, it’s a very old school Nickelodeon/Disney-style affair with a group of unknown actors committing whole hog to a flimsy story that is nonetheless a fun way to spend a rainy afternoon.

Kim (Eileen Rosen) has just moved to a neighborhood with her teenage son, Lance (Ian Barling). Kim’s boor of a boyfriend, Ken (Patrick McCartney), helps her move in. But before the truck is fully empty, Ken has stormed the neighboring porch and the inhabitants, John (Mike Rutkoski, who penned the script) and Truth (Cora Savage), a girl around Lance’s age. Lance isn’t in the house long before he discovers a locked door and immediately sets about finding the bolt cutters. What he finds in the corner of the basement is a pint-sized Frankenstein’s Monster-esque creature (Rance Nix) with a glass dome covering a visible brain. This bi-pedal creature is really more like Toddler Frankenstein than baby, with shocking blue eyes and the ability to get into trouble if you’re not watching him. He can’t speak at first, so Lance starts calling him Little Dude. Soon, Truth finds out about him and becomes invested in his safety when they realize a besuited man (Andre Gower, The Monster Squad) from the clandestine Lundquist Industries, is offering $50K the return of what they call “The Asset”. The man tells Ken and his mustachioed army buddy that they are looking for an escaped convict. But when Ken spots Little Dude, he jumps to the conclusion that what they’re actually chasing is a Chupacabra. And he’s determined to reap the reward by any means necessary.

Lance, Truth, and Little Dude (or Baby, as Truth calls him), find themselves on the run, but it’s not so dire that they can’t stop to take a bowling montage break at the alley where Truth works, or go Trick or Treating. Fortunately, it’s close enough to Halloween, that no one seems to questions Little Dude’s appearance, and just assumes he’s a child in a (really excellent) costume. In fact, the only people afraid of Little Dude are the established bad guys who want to profit off of him. Everyone else is instantly charmed. He never gets angry or hurts anyone. Not even when a pushy neighbor forces him to sing for a treat and them gives him an apple for his trouble. It’s reminiscent of the heart-warming aspects of Harry and the Hendersons and E.T. (complete with a nod to the candy-munching extra-terrestrial when he dresses as a classic sheet ghost for Halloween). The kids are wholesome enough to recall the teen romance of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Lance’s mom also goes on an extremely chaste date with Truth’s dad. It’s only slightly tainted by the fact that John tells Lance he hopes to “bump uglies” with Kim before the night is out.

YonKondy takes the soundtrack a little too far, with what seems like wall-to-wall bar rock when he’s not overutilizing Little Dude’s plunky piano theme. There’s some strange exploration of toxic masculinity with Ken that might incite some awkward conversations for the parents of younger viewers. Kids also aren’t going to pick up on the brief Blue Velvet reference. But there’s no blood or violence that isn’t akin to dinner theater fight choreography. If you have 83 minutes to kill with your family, there are worse ways to spend them.

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