ParaNorman (3D) Review
October 8, 2012
Once again, a highly anticipated film falls short of my super unreaslitically high expectations. I wanted to completely adore ParaNorman. With wonderful animation and fantastic characters, it has the potential of a brilliant film. It's still a worthy addition to 2012's Hallowe'en fare despite my mild disappointment.
Having loved animated family horror Coraline, I was very much looking forward to Sam Fell (director of Flushed Away, and a few episodes of the wonderful Rex the Runt) and Chris Butler’s (art department in Coraline, Corpse Bride) ParaNorman; a movie that promised the fusion of a number of genres to create what promised to be an instant hit. Begrudgingly seeing it in the third dimension instead of my preferred 2D; it, once again, succumbed to my unrealistically high expectations.
Norman (voiced by Kodi Smith-McPhee; Let Me In) is no ordinary little boy. With a unique ability to see the dead, he is Blithe Hollow’s only hope when a plague of zombies attack. Shunned, misunderstood and bullied because of his talent, unpopular interest in horror movies and all things zombie; Norman is their only hope in lifting a curse cast by a condemned witch centuries previously.
My favourite thing about ParaNorman was how the characters are presented. Even his attractive cheerleader sister Courtney (Anna Kendrick), the most popular girl at school, isn’t perfect. The residents of Blithe Hollow have bellies, they sweat and they have bags under their eyes; much like the rest of us. It’s no Disney film, although that’s no bad thing. Breaking the trend of unrealistically low BMIs, perfect hair and faultless skin trends of animations; ParaNorman gives children an excellent role model in the unlikely hero Norman. I can’t remember seeing an unconventional portrayal of beauty like this since Nanny McPhee hit the big screens. And about time too.
Even though I really enjoyed ParaNorman, it didn’t quite live up to my super high expectations, unusually. The stop motion animation is superb; the level of depth and detail is comparable only to Pixar and old school Burton movies. Equally as detailed as Coraline, although lacking the psychological profoundness and extreme spookiness; ParaNorman’s charm is undeniable. Despite the plot fizzling out a little towards the climax I can just about forgive them (and yet continue to hold it against them as only I can), thanks only to the wonderful animation.
Deserved of its comparisons to Coraline, Corpse Bride and the underrated Monster House; ParaNorman is a worthy addition to the family horror genre this Hallowe’en. More impressive than recent adult horrors (The Possession, I’m looking at you), ParaNorman is intense, emotional and has a fantastic moral message for not just the younger members of the audience: it’s okay to be different. Bullies who discriminate against those who aren’t “normal” will probably be plagued for centuries by the ghost of a dead girl they wronged. If only the storyline would have been stronger towards the end, ParaNorman would have had it all including laughs, scares and a good ethic behind its wonderful animation.