ParaNorman is an incredibly fun, charming, and inventive film. It has the ability to scare kids and entertain adults. Quite frankly, I surprised at the lack of fluff considering this is a family film. It’s far more daring and darker than most animated films strive to be. However, that’s not surprising considering the film comes from Laika (the creators of the 2009 animated film Coraline).
The story follows a young boy named Norman (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee). He enjoys watching horror movies and has the unusual ability to communicate with the dead. He is misunderstood by his father, his superficial sister, and the whole community. He’s bullied at school and accused of craving attention. The first part of the film deals with showing Norman as an out-of-place kid in a town that ostracizes him. However, the second part deals with Norman being the only one that can stop a witch’s curse that brings the dead back to life. You see zombies, chaos, and a lot of one-liners that are genuinely funny.
The story ties both parts together seamlessly. The conflict in the second half brings the conflict from the first half full circle. We get the moral of the story which is “doing to others what others to do you makes you no better”. People will often misunderstand you for being different, but you should choose to rise above bullies and be a better person. I was surprised by the twist in the witch’s story — which only made the film even better.
The animation from Laika is fantastic. Just like in Coraline, stop-motion is the animation style that is used. Essentially, stop-motion is crafting each character and set, moving the character, and then taking a picture. You move the character again and take a picture. Shooting films in stop-motion is a meticulous process. There is so much detail and work that went into this project and it shows. Scenes near the end of the film with the witch, Agatha Prenderghast, really show how beautiful the animation is.
Overall, ParaNorman is beautifully animated, fun, and contains a great lesson. It contains great voice acting and has a great set of characters. I would certainly recommend it.
As a side-note, I noticed this movie only has a 6.9 on IMDB. I think that’s vastly underrated. I saw a lot of discussions about parents complaining that the film was inappropriate. Also, that one of the characters that ended up being gay lowered their rating. I saw no problem with the scene and thought it was funny.