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This week, Papa Kenn reviews the new stop-motion animated hit from the same company that brought us 2009’s Coraline: PARANORMAN!
Director: Chris Butler, Sam Fell
Writers: Chris Butler
Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin
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Hey everybody, it’s the first movie since The Dark Knight Rises that didn’t make me want to punch random strangers!
And it’s a horror themed stop-motion animation family film!
Ok fine, it’s not exactly the best selling point for a movie.
ParaNorman is a film about a little boy named, obviously, Norman. He’s more than a little obsessed with horror movies and creatures (particularly zombies), and for good reason. Like Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense, he has a sixth sense…at least I think so…anyway, he can see and talk to dead people! Unfortunately, this ability makes him an outcast in not only the town, but his own family.
The direction this movie takes after the establishment of Norman and his situation is a very interesting one that introduces us to a wide array of characters. Most of them are one-dimensional side characters, but even they have enjoyable personalities. We get to know his family and their dynamics, his dopey but loveable new friend Neil, even a few ghosts and one of Norman’s biggest tormentors become fleshed out characters!
The animation in Paranorman is absolutely brilliant and is the very first movie to employ full-color 3D printers in its stop-motion style. While I only saw this in the “regular” 2D presentation, beleive me when I say that you still get the full experience without having to see it with those incredibly annoying glasses.
As for the humor, by god it felt good to watch a movie that wasn’t trying way too hard for a laugh. It’s easily funnier than “Aliens VS CostCo” (The Watch) and “An Hour and a Half of My Life I’ll Never Get Back” (The Campaign) combined without ever having to force its jokes. Are they silly? Sure, it’s mostly a kids movie after all. While there may not be a lot of major laughs, the humor is consistent, and has the bonus of an innocent charm about it from most characters. There are a few choice words thrown out here and there that are a bit jarring and honestly feel a bit out of place, but the worst of these is “jackass”. Not words you may want your youngest kids to hear, but nothing that really risks being censored on its first TV presentation.
Then finally the story itself is the strongest part of this film. Not only are the characters well fleshed out as I mentioned before, the horror movie elements are expertly handled and there’s a strong message portrayed throughout. The horror elements are effective enough to impress adult audiences but aren’t too scary for anyone but maybe the youngest of viewers. If anything, it’s a great introduction for a younger audience to the horror genre without scaring the pants off of them. The message is something best saved for when you see the movie, and is something that hits home for both kids and adults in different ways.
In the end, ParaNorman is a film that I honestly believe anyone can enjoy. I highly recommend seeing it in theaters if you can. It never failed to entertain from the very first scene to the thrilling (and gorgeous) climax, and doesn’t miss a beat until the credits start to roll.
I give ParaNorman: 9/10.
I’m Papa Kenn, and I’ll see you next review.