I highly recommend that you watch the opening credits of "Lisa Frankenstein." Then, I highly recommend that you get the heck out of there.
The credits are animated with what appears to be shadow puppets, in an elegant, silhouette-forward style that recalls the gorgeous "The Tale of the Three Brothers" animated scene from "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1." In addition to being lovely, the credits scene supplies important background information for "Lisa," telling a flashback tale of infamy and thwarted romance that will pop up again later.
Nothing that follows is worthwhile, though. Lisa (Kathryn Newton, daughter of the title character in the "Ant-Man" movies) is a teenager who seems to live in the middle of a knockoff John Hughes movie: It's 1989, her parents are distracted, her stepsister is popularity-obsessed and, although she's beautiful, smart and funny, nobody at school can stand her because she's also dreamy and death-obsessed. That obsession takes her to an unconvincingly art-directed cemetery, where she inadvertently summons back to life an undead teenager (Cole Sprouse, from "Riverdale") — who, with a little "My Fair Lady"-style sprucing up, becomes excellent crush material.
That all sounds like it could work, and "Juno" Oscar winner and former Twin Cities resident Diablo Cody seems like the screenwriter to make it timely and amusing, but the jokes in "Lisa" do not land, the characters are bafflingly ill-defined, the design elements are low-rent and even the performances feel slightly off (that reliable Carla Gugino, who plays Lisa's evil stepmother, isn't funny suggests that first-time feature director Zelda Williams may be the problem). Even the dim lighting is ugly.
Somewhere in "Lisa Frankenstein," there's a decent message about conformity and about embracing those among us who let their freak flags fly. But, again, John Hughes and countless others have brought that theme to life with more success and more style. (Like those Hughes movies, "Lisa" does have snappy taste in music, with a soundtrack that features Echo & the Bunnymen, the Pixies, Galaxie 500 and When in Rome.)
"Lisa Frankenstein" aims for a Tim Burton, creepy/funny vibe along the lines of "Corpse Bride" or TV's "Wednesday." In fact, if there's anything good about "Lisa Frankenstein" (other than those credits), it's that it's an excellent reminder of the existence of Burton's animated "Frankenweenie," a poignant, funny and great-looking film about a boy and his (undead) dog that does a much better job with most of the themes "Lisa Frankenstein" tackles.
Streaming virtually everywhere, including for free if you belong to Disney+, it's a much better use of your time.
'Lisa Frankenstein' * out of 4 stars Rated: PG-13 for language and violence. Where: In theaters.