January 29, 2013
I sought this film out because it was one of the nominees for the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. I am glad I did as this is an fun and funny family film using the stop-animation technique in a most fluid and advanced execution. My kids enjoyed it as much as I did. However, the story involves intense horror elements like witches, ghosts and zombies which may be too scary for younger kids.
The titular Norman of "ParaNorman" is a sensitive boy who has the so- called "third eye," which enables him to see and actually speak with spirits. This "gift" however makes poor Norman the target for harsh bullying in school. One day, before he died, his similarly gifted uncle, Mr. Penderghast, bequeathed to Norman the duty of placating the town ghost witch which threatens to terrorize their town of Blithe Hollow every year. When Norman fails to perform the ritual correctly, the zombies and the witch herself, wreak their havoc on the town. Can Norman and his friends reverse the curse, placate the spirits and save Blithe Hollow from a ghastly destruction?
The animation employed by Laika Productions for this film is reminiscent of their previous hit films, "Coraline" in 2009 and "Corpse Bride" in 2005. I was also reminded of another horror animated film called "Monster House." The grotesque misshapen faces and bodies of the ghosts and zombies were done very well, just the right amount of scary for their intended young audiences. The dramatic moments are written just right to discuss important issues of bullying, tolerance, and redemption, yet remain to be very entertaining for the kid and adults alike.
After viewing all the nominees for the Oscar for Best Animated Film this year, I find "ParaNorman" to be the top contender for the prize!