Lisa Frankenstein – Movie Review and Summary

“Lisa Frankenstein” doesn’t merely ride the wave of Frankenstein-type movies but carves out its own little niche thanks to the combination of those in front of and behind the camera.


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Movie poster featuring Kathryn Newton and Cole Sprouse

Plot Summary

It’s 1989, and Lisa lost her mother a few years ago. Her dad has remarried, and while her stepmom, Janet, is a b with an itch, surprisingly, her daughter Taffy is a sweetheart. Granted, it is weird how quickly she attached to Lisa’s dad, Dale, even to the point of calling him daddy, but it appears innocent.

That all aside, it’s senior year; Lisa is at a new school and is crushing hard on this guy named Michael. He isn’t a jock but a newspaper editor who reads and is into cool things like Lisa. However, he always has some girl around him who sees Lisa’s interest, so she constantly sabotages her.

But, one weird night, lightning strikes a bachelor’s graveyard Lisa always visits, and so comes forth a bachelor whom Lisa has spent many an afternoon talking to, so he naturally seeks her out. However, considering his past, it is hard to say how he will feel about being second fiddle, once again, while the woman he loves pursues another man.

Content Information

  • Dialog: Cursing
  • Violence: Amputation/Dismemberment, Blood
  • Sexual Content: Sexual Situations (Implied)
  • Miscellaneous: Depiction of Corpses, Body Horror, Drinking, Drug Use, Vomiting, Smoking

General Information

Director(s)

Zelda Williams

Screenplay By

Diablo Cody

Based On Work By

N/A

Date Released

February 9, 2024

How To Watch

In Theaters

Genre(s)

Comedy

Fantasy

Horror

Romance

Young Adult

Film Length

1 Hour 41 Minutes

Content Rating

Rated PG-13

Noted Characters and Cast

Lisa

Kathryn Newton

Janet

Carla Gugino

Taffy

Liza Soberano

Dale

Joe Chrest

Michael

Henry Eikenberry

The Creature

Cole Sprouse

Character Descriptions

Please Note: This character guide is not an exhaustive list of every cast member, and character descriptions may contain what can be considered spoilers.

Lisa (Kathryn Newton)

Cole Sprouse stars as The Creature and Kathryn Newton as Lisa Swallows in LISA FRANKENSTEIN
Cole Sprouse stars as The Creature and Kathryn Newton as Lisa Swallows in LISA FRANKENSTEIN, a Focus Features release.
Credit: Michele K. Short / © 2024 FOCUS FEATURES LLC

Two years removed from her mother’s brutal death, Lisa is dealing with a father who has moved on and a world that expects the same from her. It’s a struggle, especially with the family her dad has coerced her into. So she seeks out the quiet of a bachelor’s graveyard as she writes poetry to have in the school newspaper and impress her crush.

  • The actor is also known for their role in “Freaky.”

Janet (Carla Gugino)

In Janet’s mind, she is a nurse of 20 years who works in a psych ward and is not only a good person but also empathetic. However, that might be a guise.

Taffy (Liza Soberano)

A cheerleader at Lisa and her school, Taffy, aka Laffy Taffy, is bubbly, sweet, and the kind of person you would expect a dark side from in a movie like this. However, while she does have a secret, it isn’t the type that reveals her to be a bad person.

Dale (Joe Chrest)

Dale is Lisa’s biological dad, who doesn’t say much.

Michael (Henry Eikenberry)

Michael, like Lisa, is a senior, and he is the editor of the school newspaper.

The Creature (Cole Sprouse)

A pianist who died in the 1800s, The Creature was buried in the graveyard for bachelors due to his beloved’s betrayal, but, luckily for him, he was killed not too long after.

Review


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Highlights

Taffy

Liza Soberano stars as Taffy and Kathryn Newton as Lisa Swallows in LISA FRANKENSTEIN
Liza Soberano stars as Taffy and Kathryn Newton as Lisa Swallows in LISA FRANKENSTEIN, a Focus Features release.
Credit: Michele K. Short / © 2024 FOCUS FEATURES LLC

With Diablo Cody writing, it should be expected that while there will be women like Janet or Michael’s friend (?) as antagonists, it will be clear that women aren’t a monolith and not all stereotypes hold true. Case in point: Taffy.

Yes, she is a cheerleader, and Lisa is her complete opposite. However, she makes far more of an effort than her mom to make Dale and Lisa feel like family both at home and publicly. I’d even add that you’d think a point would come, like a “Carrie” moment, when Taffy would betray Lisa and prove she is as you’d expect, but, to much surprise, that doesn’t happen.

At least how you may expect.

The Beginning Animation

For most of the film, Cole Sprouse’s character, “The Creature,” doesn’t speak. However, his backstory, minus why he is missing some appendages, is showcased at the film’s beginning in a Tim Burton-esque animation.

In many ways, it sets the perfect tone for the film as you get the feeling that “Lisa Frankenstein” is basically Tim Burton meets John Hughes.

Lisa Is Just A Girl, Crushing On A Boy, Who Is The Crush Of A Zombie

While it is easy to see the Tim Burton influence in the costume design, some of the set designs, and even the comedy, the aforementioned John Hughes elements come from the push to show the root of many people comes in the form of longing. With her mother gone and her father rather passive, Lisa longs for someone passionate about their existence and her.

This is why she, begrudgingly at times, Lisa finds herself bonding and giving in to Taffy. She can sense that love and the desire for closeness, and while Taffy can’t replace her mother, the warmth Taffy gives is enough to convince Lisa to do things she doesn’t want to.

Which, in itself, is a beautiful thing. Lisa’s purest relationship is platonic and with another woman. But, alongside the simplicity of female friendship and love, there are the additions of making it clear Lisa is a woman who gets her period, and other women do, too. Also, there is a high school crush who maybe doesn’t see you, and through the creature, the true horror of many a man: unrequited love.

But, in general, what “Lisa Frankenstein” does well is push the idea that horror elements, comedic situations, and even tragedies are built on a foundation of real people trying to make the best out of life.

The Comedic Element

Carla Gugino stars as Janet in LISA FRANKENSTEIN
Carla Gugino stars as Janet in LISA FRANKENSTEIN, a Focus Features release.
Credit: Courtesy of FOCUS FEATURES / © 2024 FOCUS FEATURES LLC

It is a match made in heaven with Sprouse’s Disney background, Newton’s brief background on the channel, and general experience with R-rated and dark comedy movies. The two play off each other so well that even with Lisa’s focus being on Michael, you can’t deny the chemistry between her and The Creature.

However, I should note Taffy being Lisa’s polar opposite causes comedic moments, and Carla Gugino as Janet? On top of becoming someone you love to hate, she has moments when you can’t help but smile, roll your eyes, and chuckle.

On The Fence

The Question Of What Happened To The Creature’s Hand, Ear, And Other Parts

While we get an overview of The Creature’s life before death, why is he missing a hand and other things? That isn’t gone into. Now, I get it; with this being inspired by Frankenstein, there needs to be the gathering of body parts via murder and making something dead more alive, as there are reasons to question its humanity.

However, The Creature isn’t like the monster in Mary Shelley’s version or even “The Angry Black Girl And Her Monster.” Instead, The Creature is strangely operating in reverse in terms of, despite only acquiring a few body parts, nothing major, they almost seem to be healing and becoming more alive and less decayed by the day. All of which isn’t explained – you just know a storm came through, a lightning bolt hit The Creature’s grave, and the end result is that he is alive.

Recommendations

Good If You Like

  • Frankenstein movies

If You Like This Movie, We Recommend:

  1. Poor Things
  2. The Angry Black Girl And Her Monster
  3. Mary Shelley

Check out our movies page for our latest movie reviews and recommendations.


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Lisa Frankenstein – Movie Review

Summary

Our Rating: Positive (Worth Seeing) With Diablo Cody’s writing, Zelda Williams pursuing a style that does bring something different to this trend, and actors who know how to play up jokes and bring a sense of realness, “Lisa Frankenstein” has the potential to be a hit for Cody and Williams, and should at least get one week at the top of the box office.

Overall
82%
82%
  • Taffy - 83.5%
    84%
  • The Beginning Animation - 84%
    84%
  • Lisa Is Just A Girl, Crushing On A Boy, Who Is The Crush Of A Zombie - 83%
    83%
  • The Comedic Element - 82%
    82%
  • The Question Of What Happened To The Creature’s Hand, Ear, And Other Parts - 78%
    78%

Highlight(s)

  • The Comedic Element
  • Lisa Is Just A Girl, Crushing On A Boy, Who Is The Crush Of A Zombie
  • The Beginning Animation
  • Taffy

Disputable

  • The Question Of What Happened To The Creature’s Hand, Ear, And Other Parts

What Would Your Rating Be?

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