ParaNorman Movie Review
Kidzworld reviews the scary/funny stop motion animation film ParaNorman in 3-D
By: Lynn Barker
If you had a certain offbeat skill nobody else in your town has and you were bullied and teased about it, would you use it to save the very people who dis you daily? Norman Babcock does.
Norman in the graveyard
Norman with best bud Neil
Kodi (at 14) checks out Norman's head
Animator works with the Mitch puppet
Norman with grandma ghost
Alvin and pals bully Norman at school
Creepy is a Way of Life
Tween Norman Babcock (voice of Kodi Smit-McPhee) is used to going through his odd, daily routine; wake up, say hi to his dead grandma whose ghost hangs out on the family couch and greet all the local ghosts he meets on the way to school. Then, at school, where he is called “AbNorman” by bullies headed by dumb Alvin (Christopher-Mintz-Plasse), he tries to make it through the day. His only friend is another sweet but clueless outcast named Neil (Tucker Albrizzi).
The Call to Action
Norman’s little town has a secret. Although it’s a tourist attraction now for its connection to legends about a witch’s curse, little do visitors know that real evil is kept at bay by Norman’s uncle Mr. Prenderghast (John Goodman). Mr. P. can also talk to ghosts and reads passages from a book each year over a witch’s grave to keep her silent and at rest. When Prenderghast drops dead, his ghost makes sure Norman gets the book and tells him he must do the yearly reading or the witch will raise a ghoul-load of zombies to destroy the town!
Norman enters the scary graveyard to read the book aloud but it doesn’t work! Zombies start to rise and it’s up to Norman, his overbearing teen sis Courtney (Anna Kendrick), her jock crush Mitch (Casey Affleck) Neil and even bully Alvin to get to the bottom of why the zombies have risen and how to put them at rest.
By the end of the adventurous evening, zombies have stalked the town, the locals have taken up arms, Norman has made a new friend and a shameful secret, hidden for hundreds of years, is exposed. Almost nothing is what it seems on the surface but one thing is sure; Norman’s courage and compassion have made him a hero!
Like the cool kid adventure movies of the ‘80s (go rent The Goonies) and in the tradition of “Scooby Doo” (a team of mismatched friends vs. the supernatural) ParaNorman is entertaining, smart and a load of scary/funny fun!
3D is well-used, bringing depth to each cool set and launching some fun stuff out atcha as well. The voice cast is just amazing; one of the best assembled for an animated film and that really helps you care about the characters! You’ll also get into the themes; that “different” can be heroic and that everyone must learn tolerance and fear can hide the truth.
The look of the movie is downright amazing, especially when you consider that every time a character moves, there was an animator there on a tiny set literally moving a little puppet’s arm something like 1/8th of an inch for each shot until, on screen, it looks like the character is running.
ParaNorman has everything; scares, humor, a cool story, characters you can get into, even some sad moments that might draw a tear. It’s smart enough for older kids and adults and just a hoot for younger kids (who don’t scare really easily). For a really adventurous, feel good time at the movies, 5 stars.