ParaNorman

“ParaNorman” is a stop motion animated movie about a young boy who can see, and speak to, the dead. The unpredictable situations that occur due to his abilities cause an enormous amount of social stigmatism for him. No one in his life believes him, and everyone feels that he’s odd.

Things change on the anniversary of the town’s famous Puritan era witch trial, when Norman is the only one equipped to face the challenges of the supernatural events that arise. Can he save the day?

It’s a charming and unique animated movie. Colorfully creepy for kids and fun for all ages, “ParaNorman” is a strong contender for my favorite animated film this year.

Norman Babcock (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is a young boy with… issues. He can see ghosts. They talk to him frequently – to the extent that he has difficulty hiding his abilities from others. Of course, the people in his life don’t believe him. They just think he’s weird. His parents argue with him, his sister ignores him, he’s bullied at school, and his friends… well, he has no friends. Just as he makes one in fellow outcast Neil (Tucker Albrizzi), his crazy, estranged Uncle (John Goodman) shows up and informs Norman that he needs to protect the town. His Uncle, who can also speak to ghosts, is in poor health and knows his days are numbered. He needs to pass on his responsibilities to Norman.

Hundreds of years ago, the townspeople of Norman’s town executed a witch. Prior to her death, the witch placed curse on the town. She swore that the dead would rise from their graves as her revenge. If an annual ritual isn’t performed on her grave, she will return and the living dead will overrun the town. As a medium, Norman is the only one in town who can communicate with her, so the burden falls on him. Unfortunately, the school bully (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) chooses the wrong moment to harass Norman, and he’s unable to complete the ritual.

When all supernatural Hell breaks loose, Norman is the only one who can prevent catastrophe.

“ParaNorman” doesn’t feel like your typical kid’s movie. Aside from the stop motion animation (which is great), the characters and creatures have a distinct design look to them. They’re all misshapen and off, like caricatures. The world they live in is distinctive as well. It’s colorful and bright, but has a mild, macabre feel to it. It makes for a charming atmosphere… kept a smile on my face the entire movie. The subject matter, while not overly gross or scary necessarily, still has touches of both. The tone definitely stands out refreshingly amongst today’s typical kiddie fare. Once things get going, there’s plenty of silly, spooky action that will amuse both kids and grown ups alike. Eventually, the movie reaches a very, very well done ending. One that’s gorgeous to look at, sweet, and satisfies the “life lessons” requisite for children’s movies.

The voice cast does a fine job. Kodi Smit-McPhee is fine as young Norman and Tucker Albrizzi is very funny as his chubby friend Neil. Anna Kendrick plays Norman’s sister as a self absorbed gossip queen, while Casey Affleck is the muscle headed older brother to Neil, and the object of her affections. I wouldn’t have thought of casting Christopher Mintz-Plasse as a bully, but his voice is perfect for the role. Leslie Mann and Jeff Garlin play Norman’s frustrated parents. They all work well with the splendid stop motion and the terrific script to create a top-notch animated experience.

I was won over by this movie. It felt unique and creative, and extremely well done. It’s funny, and has some really good lessons organically woven into the narrative. Nothing preachy or heavy handed, they simply found a great way to tell a story about accepting people for who they are.  

A

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24 thoughts on “ParaNorman

    • Cool! Validation! LOL

      It definitely took me off guard a bit too. I love animated movies, and this one just had a very high calibre, individual feel too it. I’m glad to hear you liked it too buddy!

  1. Great review! I’m glad that a movie I was unsure about sounds incredible based on your review. Lately my expectations have been higher than the return. Sounds like this movie might break that norm…an!

    • De dum dum, tsch!!

      Hopefully I havent been the one raising your expectations disproportionately. LOL. I’d hate to have that on my shoulders.

      I dont think this would be the case here though. Its a very solid, fun flick.

  2. Good review Fogs. I liked this movie because of it’s sly humor and entertaining spectacle, but took a little too long to get going for my taste. Still, a lot better than Coraline which I honestly thought was a terrible film that I guess people liked because it looked great but offered nothing new to the table. Neitherd oes this one but at least it’s got a lot of fun to it.

    • Oh, no way, man! I’m a big fan of Coraline, too! Very similar to this in the “kind of creepy” atmosphere.

      Glad you liked this one though. You are right that it did take a while to get into gear. I didnt mind the beginning though, because they utilized the time to build the characters and establish the world well.

  3. Watching the trailer for this before Brave it made me think that it was more of a kiddie film than I was expecting. Your review has changed my mind a little. The trailer just came across as slightly… simple. You know?

    • Well… it was. Dont let me fool you there. I mean, 90% of animated movies are “Kids Films”, but they can still be enjoyable, I know I like them.

      It is still a kid’s movie, for sure. But its very enjoyable… in the same vein as many of the other animated films nowadays are.

    • Yeah, sometimes that differential is a real bummer, Tim. I can sympathize.

      I take it that means youre looking forward to this one then buddy? I know you’ve been running the top ten kids films, so I take it youre a fan of the genre? :D

      This is a SOLID contender for best animated picture – as far as my year end awards go at least.

      • I have heard very good things for this film so far, so yes i am looking forward to it :D

        Yes i have been going over the top ten kids films, part 2 actually came out today haha don’t forget to vote :D

        From the sounds of it your probably right about it winning the best animated picture :)

  4. Fogs, I just skimmed your review as I have plans to see it still. Time has evaded me, as it often does. I am impressed to see you rave about it though. I’m glad it’s original and that that plays a part in its appeal. I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you later.

  5. I liked it, too! Original, creative, great voice cast and stop action animation? Yes!

    I always appreciate when “kid” films do not talk down to kids–treat them with respect and intelligence…trust me, they will get it.

    I am falling behind…I have to write reviews for this, Expendables 2 and Bernie.
    (All enjoyable in their own way)–why must I work…pish…getting in the way of my blogging… :D

    Later!

    • I know right. Why cant we just get paid to do this? LOL.

      Glad to hear you’re enthusiastic about it too. I was really very impressed with it. It felt very original and high quality.

      I dont know that it would wind up being a classic or anything, but in terms of animated flicks this year, it’s easily one of the best!

  6. Pingback: ParaNorman Review: Something for Everyone | Rorschach Reviews

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