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ParaNorman Movie Review

Posted on September 25, 2012 by Michael Holland


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    ParaNorman is a horribly delightful stop-motion animated film about a young boy who has the ability to see and communicate with ghosts. Growing up is already is a rough process and much like Cole Sear from The Sixth Sense Norman’s abilities do not make life any easier. Unlike Cole, Norman has been more open about what he sees which makes him the target of fear and ridicule in the small town of Blithe Hollow. Norman does not know it but he is not the first resident of this witch-obsessed town to have his gifts and he has a very important role to fill.

    While trying his best to survive life as a preteen Norman (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee) finds himself befriended by another young outcast named Neil (Tucker Albrizzi). The pair quickly develops a friendship just in time for Norman’s life to be turned upside down. As it turns out his Uncle Prenderghast (John Goodman) has the ability to communicate with ghosts as well and he has spent his life fending off a curse which would consume the entire town. His uncle’s health is failing and as he comes to the end of his life he wants to prepare Norman to take his place. Unfortunately for Norman his uncle dies before he can explain exactly what is going on and Norman is left to sort out the most important parts of the mystery for himself.

    Hundreds of years ago the people of Blithe Hollow put a witch on trial and hung her for her crimes but not before she cursed the town. The story of her death is a popular legend which the town has embraced turning the town into a tourist trap. Unknown to all but a few the curse is real and the time of reckoning has finally come. Can Norman stop the witch’s curse before it is too late? With zombies rising from the grave and townspeople fleeing in fear it is going to be one crazy night.

    ParaNorman touches a very personal place for many of us. The world can be a scary place for kids and part of growing up is learning that it is okay to be scared. Finding courage is about learning what to do when you find yourself frightened, how you react to fear. Norman also learns that even adults get scared sometimes and sometimes they do the wrong thing. While obviously terrified by the events unfolding around him I was moved by the courage that Norman mustered throughout the film. At times I found myself wondering if I would have found the same courage if I were in Norma’s place. The young boy took on a truly heroic aspect as the film developed which was equally honest and impressive at the same time.

    The movie is definitely for kids but it is also filled with its fair share of humor for the older crowd. I found myself as entertained with the film as my kids which made it an excellent choice for the whole family. However, parents should be forewarned that there are some parts of the movie which can be quite terrifying. As Norman faced off with the witch in the climax of the movie I found myself sinking down in my chair with my arms tight around my chest. I was actually scared which I had not expected when I went to see this film.

    This movie is the first writing credit for Chris Butler but he is no stranger to the horror genre, stop-motion and traditional animation. Artistically his work was influential in the development of the movies Coraline, Corpse Bride, and The Tigger Movie. Chris also jumped into the director’s seat for ParaNorman alongside Sam Fell who is known for his work on Flushed Away and The Tale of Despereaux. The pair of them should be proud of their work because this is an excellent movie for horror fans of any age that will most definitely stand the test of time.

    ParaNorman will be coming out on Blu-ray and DVD on November 27, 2012. This is my only disappointment with this film as it will not be here for this year’s Halloween season.

    Rated 4 out of 5 stars.

    Reviewed by Michael Holland.

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