ParaNorman (2012) Movie Review
Review by Star Tribune
Humor depends on character, context and continuity, none of which is in abundant supply in “ParaNorman.” The item in question is an occult-themed kiddie movie that aims for a Tim Burtonesque blend of giggles and chills, missing both by a long shot. It has some elements of graphic interest. The opening and end titles are treasure troves of retro-spooky typefaces, and the action in between is filmed in funky stop-motion. What is missing are the plot and personalities that would make us care. Also, jokes. OK, heavy sigh, the setup: Norman (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee) is a regular kid with extrasensory powers. He can see and hear the spirits who inhabit his old New England town. The dead people range from his kindly grandma (Elaine Stritch) to a flock of zombies raised by a vengeful child witch who is still steamed about that whole burning-at-the-stake thing Blithe Hollow’s settlers used to do. Norman doesn’t do so well at making living, breathing friends, but his connection to the other side is the town’s only hope as a curse settles in.
Review by SF Gate
Animated zombie comedy. Directed by Sam Fell and Chris Butler. With Kodi Smit-McPhee, John Goodman. (PG. 93 minutes.)
Zombies are people, too. They may be ugly, dead, slow-moving, inarticulate and easily dismembered, but don’t judge them too harshly, OK? You don’t want them to feel misunderstood. The same goes for witches. That, more or less, is the message of “ParaNorman,” a visually breathtaking 3-D stop-motion fantasy from Laika, the studio that made “Coraline.” It tells the tale of Blithe Hollow, a tiny New England town with a less-than-blithe history modeled, it seems, on the Salem witch trials.
About 300 years ago, a young witch was sentenced to death by hanging – but in her last breaths she managed to fire off a nice, long-winded curse directed at her seven stone-faced accusers, something about dying horrible deaths and being “doomed to an eternity of damnation.”
Review by Los Angeles Times
Like the undead, animated movies are best when they’re under control. “ParaNorman,” a dark and slightly dotty 3-D fable about a boy who communes with the dearly and not so dearly departed, sometimes gets a little out of hand, especially at the end. Even so, it may be the most fun you’ll have with ghosts and zombies all year.
It’s a spooky twist on the typical outsider kid’s tale of woe. Directed by Sam Fell and Chris Butler from Butler’s scattershot script, the stop-motion film centers on Norman (Kodi Smit-McPhee), a bookish 11-year-old and one of the main targets for the school’s nose-picking bully Alvin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). At home Norman is loved but misunderstood. His bombastic dad (Jeff Garlin) is forever booming about his conversations with “ghosts.” His loopy mom (Leslie Mann) is certain it’s only a phase. And his teenage sister Courtney (Anna Kendrick) basically can’t be bothered with her irritating little brother. Norman’s solace is watching scary movies on TV with his grandmother (Elaine Stritch). The problem, at least for Dad, is that Grandma passed away last year.