My first impression of ParaNorman was hardly a lasting one. That was largely because I’m not the biggest fan of stop-motion animation. I’ve seen a couple stop motion films in the past and didn’t enjoy them as much as I hoped I would. But after a great panel at San Diego Comic Con, I couldn’t help but be on board with ParaNorman. From the clips shown, it was reminiscent of The Goonies, one of my favorite childhood films. The directors described it as John Hughes meets John Carpenter. And after seeing it, that’s an apt description. ParaNorman is scary, witty and a ton of fun, easily one of the best animated films this year.
Norman (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee) would be an average kid, if it weren’t for his ability to see ghosts. Because of that, everyone thinks he’s weird, and he’s constantly bullied by classmate Alvin (voiced by Christopher Mintz-Plasse). His family doesn’t know how to handle Norman and his “ability.” Everything begins to change when Norman inherits the task of renewing the Witch’s Curse, in order to stop zombies from invading his town. Unfortunately, his task gets interrupted by the obnoxious Alvin, and the zombies come to life. Now, it’s up to Norman and a few surprising allies to help him fight and stop the zombies.
ParaNorman is almost like a kids movie made for adults. It’s a tad scarier and the humor’s a bit more mature than the average kids film. In that way, it makes it so refreshing because it’s a treat for everyone. With clever jokes and allusions to past horror films, it’s a movie that many film lovers will undoubtedly enjoy.
In addition to Mintz-Plasse and Smit-McPhee, actors Anna Kendrick, Leslie Mann, Casey Affleck, John Goodman and others lend their voices to the film. Kendrick plays Norman’s shallow, teenage sister, Courtney, to the T. Affleck plays the jock, Mann voices Norman’s mom, and Goodman is Norman’s also paranormal-powered uncle. The voice acting is great and worked into the characters well. But the truly most stunning thing about the movie is the animation. Yes, the stop-motion hater herself was completely taken by surprise how excellent the animation was. I had seen Laika’s work before (Coraline), but with ParaNorman, they took it up a notch and delivered an awesome looking film. I think I like stop-motion animation now.
Go see ParaNorman. Trust me; you’ll be kicking yourself if you miss out on this really cool movie. Should you see it in 3D? Maybe. It’s not eye-popping 3D, but it helps you admire the work of the animators a little more.
Rating: 7.5/10 ★★★★★★★☆
ParaNorman is now playing in theaters.