Review: ParaNorman

I wasn’t planning on reviewing movies: a lot of people do that, and do it really well, and I just don’t watch enough TV to keep up any sort of pace. But I just watched “ParaNorman,” and wowza.

Long review short:

  • If you are an adult who loves stop-motion or just really fantastic visuals,…
  • If you are an adult who has always loved quirky kids’ movies,…
  • If you are interested in supernatural tropes and twists on your expectations,…
  • If you are a parent of a child who is bullied, or who you think may be acting as a bully, you and your child…
  • If you are a parent of an older-age kid who fits in one of the above categories, you and your child …
  • If you’ve always been or are the parent of a kid who likes movies that might be a little bit scary for other kids, …

…Watch “ParaNorman.”

I wish this movie had made a bigger splash when it came out. After hearing it was stop-motion from the guys who did “Coraline,” I was interested, but none of the ads made me actually want to see it. For one thing, they seemed to focus a lot on ghosts and “talking to the dead.” And overall the ads didn’t seem to have a clear idea of what it was.

Ghosts are in the movie, and talking to the dead is significant, but you know what 90% of the movie is? Zombies. Funny zombies, scary zombies, bad b-movie zombies, regular people that are pretty much zombies because they’re kinda dumb…

It’s a movie about Norman, a kid who can talk to/see the dead, but no one in town believes him and he’s bullied and teased by pretty much everyone. Except then it turns out that the town legend about cursed pilgrims and a witch is, um, actually true. Oops! And Norman is the only one who can rescue them, but he’s a little fuzzy on the “how” part of that. It takes awhile for him to work it out, and he does, in a better-than-the-grown-ups solution he decides upon all by himself. He makes a lot of friends in the process, and most of the townspeople realize how stupid they’ve been (and the rest deny it).

And did I mention it is visually stunning? There were times I wanted to pause the movie just to look at all the detail. I can’t believe this was claymation/stop-motion. I mean, it’s nothing like “Wallace & Grommet,” and those are some incredible movies. I wish I could see the set and the props up close. It would be an amazing miniatures display!

For some of the supernatural elements, they’ve overlaid some light CGI. It’s not distracting, but is really excellent at emphasizing the “otherness” of the spooky bits. And it was great! Drool-worthy.

If you’re still on the fence about “ParaNorman,” (or you’re just looking for other good stuff) consider this list. If you’ve liked something else here, odds are good you’ll like “ParaNorman,” too.

“The Graveyard Book,” book by Neil Gaiman
“Coraline,” by Neil Gaiman (book or movie. Personally I found the movie a lot scarier).
“The Corpse Bride,” movie by Tim Burton
“The Nightmare Before Christmas,” by Tim Burton
“Frankenweenie,” by Tim Burton (my goodness, can you imagine how epic it would be if you got Neil Gaiman together with Tim Burton?! Minds would explode)
“Anya’s Ghost,” comic by Vera Brosgol
“Monster House,” movie directed by Gil Kenan

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