I was pleasantly surprised by ParaNorman. I have not been impressed with 2013’s animated features so far, and something featuring zombies is rarely something I seek out on my own. Suffice it to say, I was not stoked about watching ParaNorman, but luckily it pulled out the comedic stops and pumped in enough story that I wasn’t hating my life while watching it.
Here we see yet another claymation, stop motion animation, not unlike the recently reviewed Frankenweenie. Norman (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee) is an oddball, by even his family’s standards. His best friend is his Grandma (Elaine Stritch) and he talks to her about everything. The only hitch is that his Grandma is dead. Norman sees and converses with a lot of dead people, but everyone who is living thinks he is absolutely bonkers. One day, the only man in the town crazier than Norman warns him that an evil is about to be set loose on the town, and only Norman can stop it.
Norman grew up in a small town not unlike Salem. Its history is rich with dead witches and every year they celebrate the demise of one named Agatha (Jodelle Ferland) who supposedly put a curse on her judgers and the town. This centuries-old curse is more than something that sells t-shirts to the community, but this year things go down differently. Several zombies rise from the grave and Norman, his sister Courtney (Anna Kendrick), and a few odd sidekicks have to save they day.
While Norman is your normal misunderstood lead character, and Kodi voices him well, the real show stopper was his only friend Neil (Tucker Albrizzi), the classic fat kid whose lines and physical comedy make every scene he is in. His muscled brother Mitch (Casey Affleck) is a classic jock without brains, which is perhaps how he gets roped into the adventure so easily. The film also dwells on Norman’s poor relationship with his father (Jeff Garlin) who, as his wife points out, is scared for Norman, not of Norman.
The end of the film goes a little off the deep end but the animation is so wild and cool that I didn’t mind at all. The colors and the fluidity of every motion were truly breathtaking. This is actually one animated feature from 2013 that I wouldn’t mind viewing more than once. It was funny, appropriately scary, albeit incredibly predictable. If you don’t like being able to figure out the plot (which in that case maybe you shouldn’t watch kid movies) you won’t like this film.
I highly recommend ParaNorman to you. It might be a little scary for the kids but in this day and age, who knows what they can stomach!