ParaNorman is the story of a boy who can speak with the dead and has to save the town from zombies.
In a small New England town called Blithe Hollow, Norman (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is a seemingly normal boy that has the power to see and speak with the dead. While with his chubby friend Neil (Tucker Albrizzi), the boys are approached by Norman’s estranged uncle Prenderghast (John Goodman) who tells Norman that he must protect the town against the witch. Unfortunately, Prenderghast dies before leaving Norman instructions, and has to visit him as a ghost to deliver the message that Norman will need to read a book at the witches burial site before sundown. Norman gets to where he thinks the witch was buried, only to find out he is wrong and now the dead are rising and the curse of the witch is unleashed. It’s up to Norman, his sister, Neil, and Neil’s brother to break the curse.
I have seen reviews for ParaNorman on both sides of the spectrum, some folks love it and some seem to be completely nonplussed by it. While the film certainly has its faults, I was quite charmed by it, largely due to the art style of the stop-motion animation. As a huge fan of the film Coraline, I wanted to see ParaNorman just knowing that it would be made by the Chris Butler, the writer/director. Luckily, ParaNorman looks amazing. There are many times that it lokos like the entire film is CGI, and CGI is used heavily in some scenes, but most of it is actually stop-motion animation and I love that.
The plot of ParaNorman is almost like an introduction to zombie movies for kids. The humor, well most of it, is clearly aimed at a young crowd. I found several of the jokes really lame, but I also found myself laughing out loud. Not quite a horror movie, it doesn’t offer scares but it is a bit intense by the end, though not as all out creepy as parts of Coraline are. It makes for ParaNorman to be slightly uneven but on a whole it’s a fun film that would be good for almost everyone. One last thing to note is that I saw this in 3D (it was only showing in 3D, actually). Normally, I would opt for 2D versions of films but I found the 3D to be good in ParaNorman; not too intrusive and not obnoxious.
If someone asked me if I would recommend ParaNorman, I would heartily say “yes!” and also suggest seeing Coraline. ParaNorman is a film that spoke to me (pun intended). I didn’t love all of it, but what I loved enough of it that made it a pretty good little film.
I give it 4 deconstructed Normans out of 5.