by Rob DiCristino
There are all kinds of reasons to create your own boyfriend. Maybe you’re the intellectual type bored by the preening, athletic, cerebrally-challenged boys at school. Maybe your more outgoing sister is hogging up all the prime real estate, breaking hearts in outfits that hang a bit more curvaceously from her body than they would from your own. Maybe your mother’s untimely death at the hands of a home-invading ax murderer has made you into more of an indoorsy, listen-to-The-Cure-and-watch-horror-movies type, and you’re having a hard time coming up with relatable topics for conversation. Look, we’ve all been there. And since desperate times call for desperate measures, we’re not exactly surprised when the lonesome midnight mithering of high schooler Lisa (Kathryn Newton) inadvertently reanimates the corpse of a handsome young man (Cole Sprouse) who’d been laying at rest in the local cemetery since the Victorian Era (era). He’s just the kind of strong, silent, cadaverous soul she’s been waiting all of her life to meet. What could possibly go wrong?
Though a bit too messy and cacophonous to rank among the genre’s best entries, Lisa Frankenstein is nonetheless an eager and endearing blend of coming-of-age tropes delivered with the kind of chaotic edge that would make Heathers proud. Diablo Cody tempers the anarchic, over-stylized teen dialogue that made Juno an easy target for detractors, instead allowing Newton and Sprouse’s unlikely chemistry to drive the comedy. Lisa Frankenstein has a certain narrative looseness — to put it politely — and its lead actors take full advantage of that lack of supervision, with Newton in particular cranking up the volume as Lisa grows increasingly unmoored. Gugino, too, is happy to play: She gives Janet — a suburban autocrat who day-drinks righteous indignation and has serious doubts about your commitment to Sparkle Motion — just enough charm that we believe she could have raised the considerably-more conscientious Taffy but not so much that we we don’t delight in Frank’s chosen punishment for her offenses against his true love.
Lisa Frankenstein hits theaters on February 9th.