Animation Movies, by Mike Richardson, 25 September 2012

Director: Chris Butler, Sam Fell

Stars: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick and Christopher Mintz-Plasse

Country: USA

Runtime: 92 min

Release Date:

Language: English

Both Tim Burton and Steven Spielberg need to be name check in ParaNorman although neither are involved, it’s because the film looks like it’s come out of a brainstorm between the two movie makers.

ParaNorman

ParaNorman

ParaNorman was written and co-directed by Chris Butler, a former story supervisor on the excellent movie Coraline. And much like Coraline, ParaNorman is a likably scary story, about a lonely kid called Norman Babcock (played / voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee) who can see ghosts wandering around his sleepy little town of Blithe Hollow (however ParaNorman is no Sixth Sense for kids and Norman has the theme from Halloween (a favourite horror movie) on his mobile). The voice cast is rounded out with a decent nice mix of stars, Anna Kendrick (plays Courtney), Casey Affleck (as Mitch), Tucker Albrizzi (Neil) and Christopher Mintz-Plasse (as Alvin), plus and old guard of John Goodman (Mr Prenderghast), Leslie Mann (Sandra) and best of all Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Jeff Garlin (Perry).

Norman finds that his gift makes him the only person who can save the town from an infestation of zombies after a 16th century witch laid down a curse (at this point ParaNorman walks all over Tim Burton’s latest self-pleasing, audience frustrating film Dark Shadows). Co-directors Chris Butler and Sam Fell are obviously enormous horror fans, and like all the best mockeries, you have to feel strongly about the subject to parody it. ParaNorman serves up genre staples like “angry mob”, “re-animated severed limbs” and “wandering zombies” with real affection and relish. Outside of the horror, the other prevailing theme in ParaNorman is a fear of what’s different, an oft visited refrain.

It’s unclear what children will make of ParaNorman’s battle with corpses, or a teddy bear used as a firebomb or a character commenting that a situation has a “total slasher movie feel”, but I for one will happily forgive the filmmakers for not talking down to the audience, although Mumsnet might find it a bit downbeat for the average rug rat, although there is plenty of kiddy-friendly content to admire, not least the relationship between Norman and fellow student Neil.

It’s worth mentioning that The animating stage of ParaNorman lasted almost two years at Laika (the stop-motion studio known for 2009’s Coraline) as the work was worth the overtime time as the stop motion animation is of a grand, old-fashioned type standard, with every odd-shaped characters adding to ParaNorman’s dark, kooky and offbeat world, in a way that (boring!) 3D just wouldn’t.

ParaNorman is not on a level with Burton’s standard-bearer The Nightmare Before Christmas and the forthcoming Frankenweenie, but it is a nice animated homage to the horror genre.

ParaNorman Trailer

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