Directed by Chris Butler & Sam Fell
Written by Chris Butler
Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and John Goodman
A misunderstood boy who can speak with the dead, takes on ghosts, zombies and grown-ups to save his town from a centuries-old curse.
Pure awesome. While not as solid as Coraline, ParaNorman made me laugh out loud as well as cheer for the comprehensive horror feel of the film. Design an atmosphere are pivotal in these kinds of movies, and this was a total success in my opinion. Norman is a boy who can communicate with the dead, not exactly a popular role in the delicate middle school hierarchy, huh? Throw in the fact that his parents don’t understand him on a grand level, and you have a great basis for Norman to challenge his reluctant skill set and maybe prove himself an unlikely hero in the end. Every potential hero needs the archetypical misunderstood friend to help along the way and add a little comic relief. Chubby Neil adds some much-needed comedy to the movie. I’d like to also add that unless you have a very mature 7-year-old that lives for horror, you’re going to experience some trauma during this intensely acted 90 minutes. Even the sudden surround sound mix caught me off guard a time or two. It was pretty entertaining to hear the frequent screams of the kids during the movie though. Remember, parents – you were warned.
The best part of the audience experience for me was the moment we find out one of the super jock characters is identified as being gay. The character mentions how much his boyfriend is going to love something – one second later you could hear a confused ten-year old in the row ahead of me react with a loud and confused “Boyfriend??!” Oh, those crazy liberals, trying to indoctrinate their crazy demands for equal rights into a “kids” movie. I’m sure Romney has a new ad targeting Obama’s gay agenda on deck as we speak.
ParaNorman had my respect from the opening scenes. Not many people are making stop-motion films like this in this day and age. Not only was the film a joy to watch, but I also felt something for the characters, especially our young protagonist, Norman. Horror lovers will notice some obvious nods to the genre, and maybe a few more subtle references if you’re paying attention. This film took two full years to animate and the passion is all there on the screen. ParaNorman is beautiful, it’s well cast and voice-acted; the story is as evil as it is compelling. Zombies burst out of the ground, there’s a ghost around every corner, and the film is a lot more intense than you might expect. The toilet scene was awesome. John Goodman does a terrific job portraying Norman’s estranged uncle who knows a thing or two about his nephew’s quirky ability.
Norman defeats his enemies and disarms ghouls and humans alike. On his way to his ultimate proving ground, Norman fights against prejudice and grumpy authority figures as he saves both the living and the dead. Fell and Butler obviously know what they’re doing and this film showcases their flair for rich stories and clear vision. I’d be surprised if you can catch everything that’s going on at once in ParaNorman. This is going to be a welcome Blu Ray at my home. Small kids not withstanding, ParaNorman is a wonderfully crafted film and I urge you to catch it while it’s still in theaters.