Directed by Chris Butler
Voice-work by Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick (as well as many others… including John Goodman)
Man, I wish ParaNorman was released 10 years ago… if so I may not have watched A Bug’s Life quite so much growing up. Here is a film for children that will scare them as much as entertain them, and keep the parents amused in equal measure. It’s charming, inventive, fun and frightening; an all-round delight.
Telling the oft-told story of a shy, bullied boy named Norman who spends most of his time at school either cowering in the janitor’s closet or washing graffiti off his locker, and at home being scowled by his disappointed Dad or insulted by his domineering sister, ParaNorman then takes the path that is not told quite as often, and allows our young hero to communicate with the dead, and perhaps even have visions of dark circumstances to come. When Norman’s mysterious uncle (who has the same gift in speaking to the dead) dies, it becomes his destiny to repel an evil curse, and save the town that has rejected him as an outcast by battling zombies, bullies and a vengeful witch. Needless to say, kids will have nightmares after viewing this… but in exposing them to beautifully realised animation, it is worth it.
The visuals on display here are of a rare calibre; in the age of CGI too many animations appear lazy and uninventive in the images they present, but ParaNorman thrives in the rich, textured and unique style it applies. From the smallest blade of grass, to the vast expanses of the sky, the care and skill that went into creating this universe is obvious and greatly appreciated. Other highlights (of which there are many) include greatly entertaining supporting characters, a superb score by Jon Brion and a terrific opening that sets the scene perfectly.
In summary, ParaNorman is great fun, great filmmaking and more than worthy of a 3D Blu-ray purchase. Turn out the lights, crank up the volume, and prepare to smile.
4.5 tragic zombies out of 5