Josh’s Review: ‘ParaNorman’ is A Cute Halloween Spook Tale With No Adult HumorBy
With the ease and supreme look of CGI films, stop-motion has become something of the past. That’s why ParaNorman felt like a fresh throwback to the other stop-motion Halloween flicks like a Nightmare Before Christmas. ParaNorman pretty much taps into every emotion possible with its hour and a half runtime, but none of those emotions are strong enough to capture every member of the audience.
The film is about a misunderstood boy named Norman Babcock who is able to speak to ghosts, who for one reason or another have not fully passed into the afterlife. Norman’s family is very stereotypical as they don’t understand Norman’s gift and are not willing to accept it. Norman is followed by his old bum uncle who claims to have had the duty of performing a ritual to keep the town safe from the curse of an evil witch who was killed 300 years ago. He passes that duty onto Norman, who doesn’t want the responsibility. With time running out before the curse hits the town of Blithe Hollow, Norman and his ragtag group of converted believers must stop the curse from destroying the town.
ParaNorman has a very full and crisp look to it. There are a lot of moving parts in every shot and it was clear great attention was given to every detail within the frame. The lighting and stop-motion work are very admirable. Each and every character is given a very unique look from the others. Every character is either very cute or very ugly with little wiggle room in-between. Add that to the talent-rigged voice work from John Goodman, Leslie Mann, Casey Affleck and Anna Kendrick, it’s easy to see why this film would fill seats. The only cast member that became a nuisance to listen to would be that of the main character Norman. Played by Kodi Smith-Mcphee, Norman never seems to break his whiny, poutful tone which becomes taxing after a while. If anyone has seen Kodi in The Road with Viggo Mortensen, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. Even when the kids says “Hi” to his neighbors, he still sounds like his dog just died.
The film fails to capture an age group throughout its duration. It doesn’t have the modern comedic value that a Toy Story or Shrek has to appease the adults that pay for the tickets. This movie is strictly for kids. An adult who expects a certain level of entertainment could fall asleep during the film. A teenager would more than likely complain to that sleeping adult about how boring the film is, until the ending, which may be too intense and dark for innocent minded youngsters. A five year-old would love the beginning and the middle, but may get creeped out by ParaNorman’s aggressive ending.
Overall, ParaNorman is a cute and giddy Halloween flick with some darker elements that may be perfect for an 8 year-olds slumber party. It has some very admirable qualities on the production side, but it lacks the elements to attract and hold the attention and appreciation of different age groups to make it a classic.
What Should You Do? If you have a kid that wants to see it, then see it. Other than that, I can’t find a reason why anyone over the age of 8 would pay to see ParaNorman.