ParaNorman (2012)

paranorman-poster
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Fun stop-motion that looks great, Norman is a good character

Story needs some work and more direction, less slapstick and more surreal would have been nice

Movie Info

Movie Name:  ParaNorman

Studio:  Laika

Genre(s):  Animated/Family/Horror/Comedy

Release Date(s):  August 3, 2012 (Mexico)/August 17, 2012 (US)

MPAA Rating:  PG

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The dead are such seat hogs

Norman Babcock has had a tough life. He can see dead people and it has made him an outcast among his classmates and even his family. Norman has learned to deal with his problem, but lately something has been occurring that has Norman scared. When “crazy” uncle Mr. Prenderghast reveals he too can talk to the dead, Norman learns that it is up to him to continue a ritual to keep the witch of Blithe Hollow from attacking the town. As Norman works to stop the witch, the dead begin to return to life and Blithe Hollow sees Norman as their scapegoat. Can Norman stop the witch and learn the truth of secret of Blithe Hollow?

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I’m about to get colonial on your ass!

Directed by Sam Fell and Chris Butler, ParaNorman is a stop-motion 3D animated film by the makers of Coraline. The movie features the voices of Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Leslie Mann, Jodelle Micah Ferland, Jeff Garlin, Bernard Hill, Tempestt Bledsoe, and John Goodman among others. The movie was well received by critics and nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature.

paranorman-witch

So…you’re kind of like Casper and Sabrina all rolled into one

The story of ParaNorman seems to need a bit more direction. I do like the ancestral comparisons between Norman, his uncle Prenderghast and his long dead relative Agatha Prenderghast aka the witch. It is a story about acceptance, but the balance of humor and horror feels like it needs some work to make it more surreal and less slapstick. The movie isn’t dark enough and it isn’t light enough…as a result it felt a bit boring at times.

Norman however is a likeable character which is necessary to propel the plot. He is the typical outcast who suddenly with Neil Downe and later Alvin starts to find friends. It is a relatively good message for kids and the whole movie really revolves around Norman’s attempts to fit in and realize that it gets better…something he has to explain to Aggie to stop her for being angry at the world that destroyed her.

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Just one big happy family…and a dead grandma

Visually, ParaNorman is stunning. I love stop motion animation features much more than CGI animated features. The true three dimensional aspect of the models give the movie more depth and feel than a two dimensional film being made to look three dimensional. The sets and character designs all go together well and have a real creepy feel to them that kids and adults can enjoy.

I liked ParaNorman, but didn’t feel it was great…a similar feeling I had toward Coraline. The story of the film really ranges from sweet to scary at points and never seems to find the happy balance in humor. As a kid, however, I probably would have enjoyed it since it does involve ghouls and ghosts and it is kid friendly. The movie almost comes down to style over substance with the great stop-motion, but a better than average story does help a great looking film.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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