By: Bryan Montgomery
Rating: 8 out of 10
What would you do if you were a kid that could see ghosts? 2009’s Coraline helped usher in a new generation of stop-motion films and has set the standard for 3D stop-motion film making. Paranorman, made in the same stop-motion fashion, succeeds in every way by pulling together a strong, meaningful story with outstanding animation, resulting in a surprisingly effective animated film that ranks among the year’s best.
Norman is a regular boy except for one extraordinary power; he can see ghosts. When a curse of a witch threatens to destroy his entire town, Norman has to jump into action to not only stop the haunting forever, but also to save his family from the undead that have risen as a result of the curse.
For any animated film, the quality of the picture and the degree of care that goes into the animation is critical. That is one reason why I love stop-motion films; so much care and detail has to be physically placed into the picture and rigorously changed to reflect the additional motions of the character. For a film that took three years to make, including two years in production, Paranorman looks amazing.
The film also has a great deal of humor. Norman is a very serious character, but the character of Neil, another kid who is bullied in school, is absolutely hilarious. The supporting cast each has their moments throughout the film, ranging from Anna Kendrick’s solid vocal performance as Norman’s sister Courtney to Casey Affleck’s tilt as Mitch, who both play big parts in the film.
Ultimately, this was Kodi Smit-McPhee’s show to run as Norman. Luckily, he nails it. Norman is a very relatable character; any kid who was bullied in elementary or middle school can agree with the way that he felt at one point or another. The strength of the character drastically improves as the film goes on and at the end you feel satisfied with where Norman’s character has ended.
The content itself is enough to make everyone think and imagine what you would do if you had the abilities that ce in the Norman seems to embrace during the film. In no way do the powers that Norman exhibits reflect the graphic depictions seen in The Sixth Sense. Paranorman does an outstanding job catering to its audience; there is enough action and scary moments to appease the younger crowd, while at the same time giving the adults that view the film enough to chew on throughout the duration so that they enjoy it as much as the kids will.
Paranorman is really at its best when the zombies come into play. Another outstanding part of the film is the reveal of what the zombies are actually rising for and the curse that they are under. The moments where Norman is talking to the zombies are absolutely hilarious, especially when people that do not have Norman’s abilities listen to Norman’s questions usher in grunts and groans as responses. Paranorman does many things well and is at its strongest when the undead start rising from the grave.
Another strong entry in the animated film category, Paranorman has something for everyone and is another indicator why stop-motion is quickly becoming one of the most appeasing formats to use. A funny, meaningful and deep animated film, Paranorman does not come up for air, putting the pedal to the metal and not letting up until the credits roll. It’s a fun ride and needs to be experienced as one of the best animated films of 2012.