This is a movie that I initially had absolutely no interest in seeing. After I got the assignment to review it, I checked out some of the trailers and I started to think that it could possibly be a solid movie. When I was done checking out the trailers, I went to see the cast and was pretty surprised by who was cast in the movie. Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin, John Goodman, and even McLovin is in the movie. After seeing that I really felt like the movie could be great, and it really is a great movie overall.
ParaNorman tells the story of Norman, a kid who has the unfortunate ability of seeing dead people. He is an outcast at school and home because everyone thinks that he is faking his abilities to get attention. No matter how hard he tries he can’t get through to the living like he can get through to the dead. He lives in a town where a witch was burned hundreds of years ago and put a curse on the people who burned her and he starts having visions of her being burned. He then finds out that he is the only one who can break the curse and put the witch to rest.
The great thing about this movie is that it has the early 80’s PG vibe to it. What I mean by that is that there are “raunchy” parts in the movie, but it still has a kid’s movie feels to it. It is kind of like an animated version of The Goonies, and that is a wonderful thing. Especially at a time when animated movies are generally bland, except for Pixar films. I also view this as what The Sixth Sense could have been, if The Sixth Sense didn’t suck. The idea that you can see dead people would be traumatizing and you would naturally look to talk about it with people. I’m just trying to figure out why an animated kids movie can get that right and not a critically acclaimed drama.
The animation in this film is also astounding, and it easily bests it predecessor Coraline in every way possible. Everything is smooth while on-screen and there is no jerkiness to the characters’ motions. The effects used in the film are pretty solid as well, such as in scenes where Norman starts having his vision while rehearsing for his school play. The way the scenery burns away as a transition to the vision was just a phenomenal choice in my opinion and gave the movie a really creepy feel. There really needs to be some more movies made in the same fashion as Coraline and ParaNorman, because you can see the hard work that the production team put into the movie. Every aspect of the movie is high quality from the animation to the acting.
This is one of the few animated family movies that I have seen that is not particularly “happy,” and it made the movie much more effective than the usual brain-dead crap that makes its way into theaters on a regular basis. Ideas such as death, bullying, mob mentality, and acceptance are used throughout the course of the movie and the movie expects you to understand the messages it is trying to get across to you. It does not sit there and explain what every reference means and it doesn’t tell you how to feel at certain points. ParaNorman expects you to form your own responses and doesn’t dumb anything down and I really appreciated that aspect of the movie.
This is one of the best movies that I have seen this year, animated or otherwise. The performances in the movie are excellent and it is great to see stop motion animation making a comeback in Hollywood. I really wish I would have seen the movie in 3D, but it wasn’t playing in 3D near me… there is always the Blu-Ray version in the future. Go and see this movie as soon as possible, it will be well worth your time.
Take a Drink: every time refers to Norman as being “weird”
Take a Drink: every time you see a piece of zombie memorabilia in the movie.
Take a Drink: every time there is an old school horror movie reference.