KSL Movie Show review: ‘Lisa Frankenstein’ falls apart

Feb 9, 2024, 2:00 PM

steve salles lisa Frankenstein review...

In this KSL Movie Show review, Steve Salles says 'Lisa Frankenstein' is a smattering of bits and pieces that don’t hold together very well.

SALT LAKE CITY — I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t this.

From the creative and twisted mind of Diablo Cody, who gave us both “Juno” (yes!) and “Jennifer’s Body” (huh?), comes a story about a troubled teen and her obsession with a Victorian gravesite (sure, why not).

Lisa Swallows (Kathryn Newton aka Ant-Man’s daughter) was traumatized years earlier when her mother was killed by an ax murderer in their home. Little Lisa hid in a closet and could do nothing to help.

Flash forward to 1989, she barely speaks around her high school classmates, works part-time at a dry cleaners as a seamstress, has a new stepmom Janet (Carla Gugino) and stepsister Taffy (Liza Soberano).

But on the plus side, I guess, she’s within walking distance from an overgrown Victorian cemetery for bachelors that she visits often.

She’s smitten by one particular gravesite featuring the statue of a handsome, young man who died back in the late 1800’s. She adorns his grave, places gifts in his arms, and even sits and chats with him, although he doesn’t talk back – fortunately.

Lisa meets Frankenstein (kind of)

Of course, an unusual lightning storm strikes the graveyard right after a drunken, depressed Lisa wishes she and statue boy could be together.

Bing bang boom, not only is he re-animated, but so is some other creep show guy who begins chasing Lisa around her house, breaking stuff.

But he disappears, never to be mentioned again. That was quite odd.

However, Lisa has no trouble warming up to zombie statue boy (Cole Sprouse of “Five Feet Apart”) whom she cleans up, dresses and allows to sleep in her closet.

He slowly gets less gross, although his tears still smell like “a hot toilet at a carnival,” and after a few trips in her sister’s tanning bed, he becomes almost presentable – almost.

He’s still missing an ear, a hand and some other vital equipment, oh and he can’t speak, so he just grunts.

However, once he obtains a new hand (and here’s where it goes off the rails) he can sit down at the piano and play classical music and then from sheet music, whips out “Can’t Fight this Feeling” by REO Speedwagon, while Lisa painfully sings the words.

Hard to root for

So now you might be asking yourself, where did he get the ear, the hand and the other bits? They’re from, let’s just say, unwilling donors who conveniently get in the way. No remorse, no hesitation, no problem.

Which I’m sorry, feels callous and cruel.

That’s where I checked out.

These massive tonal shifts were everywhere. Initially, you of course feel sorry for poor, lonely Lisa, but as the body count rises, you resent these characters for making us like them.

The best example comes from Taffy, the cute, cheerleading stepsister. Traditionally, she would be mean and condescending, but through most of the movie, she’s one of the few on Lisa’s side, constantly sticking up and protecting her.

She didn’t deserve the treatment she got, even though she does something completely out of character, but only to fit Cody’s bizarre storyline.

Sure, there are some funny scenes scattered around, but by and large, “Lisa Frankenstein” is a smattering of bits and pieces that don’t hold together very well and that’s a shame, because there’s a clever movie in there somewhere, just dying to get out.

LISA FRANKENSTEIN (C) Rated PG-13 for violent content, bloody images, sexual material language, sexual assault, teen drinking and drug content. Starring Kathryn Newton, Cole Sprouse, Liza Soberano, Carla Gugino and Henry Eikenberry. Directed by Zelda Williams in her feature film directorial debut – from a script by Diablo Cody. Filmed in New Orleans. Running time: 101 minutes.

Steve Salles is the co-host of the KSL Movie Show. Follow the show on Facebook. Join the KSL Movie Show Club for exclusive perks by texting MOVIE to 57500. 

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KSL Movie Show review: ‘Lisa Frankenstein’ falls apart