ParaNorman is a cute, 3D stop-motion comedy thriller about a misfit little kid who starts out the movie watching TV with his dead grandmother and his own family’s disbelief of his stories and criticizing and making fun of him sets the tone for most of the movie. The animation style is similar to that used in Coraline because it is made by the same production team. There are some semi-gruesome scenes in the movie that very young kids may have nightmares about, depending on their maturity level regarding ghosts and such.
There are some popular actors voicing the roles in this cute but scary story including John Goodman (Mr. Prenderghast), Casey Affleck (the hunky Mitch, brother of Neal), Anna Kendrick (Norman’s sister, Courtney), Jeff Garlin (Norman’s dad), Elaine Stritch (Grandma), Tempestt Bledsoe (the Sheriff), and the young, up and coming actor, Kodi Smit-McPhee as Norman.
The storyline finds Norman trying to live his life as normally as possible for a little boy who can see the ghosts of dead people and animals all around him. He greets them all each morning as he walks to his school where he’s teased and bullied as a freak because of his unusual ability.
His only pseudo friend is Neal who also gets bullied for being fat, so since misery loves company, Norman reluctantly accepts Neal’s friendship. Norman is informed by the town’s recluse weirdo- who is also his uncle, Mr. Prenderghast, that his unusual gift obligates him to save and protect the town as his family has been doing for centuries from the evil witch who cursed the town when she was being hung hundreds of years ago. Each year, on the anniversary of her death, he has to prevent her from rising from her grave and wreaking havoc and death on the town.
ParaNorman is a well-written story about bullying and being judgmental, and the regrets that can result when you jump to conclusions when someone isn’t as “normal” as you think they should be. It brings unlikely foes together to fight a common enemy when the primary bully from school, Alvin, along with Neal’s dumb jock brother and Norman’s ditzy sister gets caught up in the mission to save the town from the zombies and the evil witch fighting alongside Norman and his friend Neal. There’s even a surprise gay character or two if you watch closely. Elaine Stritch provides some gems of wisdom as Norman’s ghostly Grandma.
I enjoyed this humorous flick and I think you will too. The 3D combined with the stop-motion animation gives it a sense of realism and depth, and you’ll find yourself laughing out loud more than once as you munch on your popcorn and sip your soda.
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