Saturday, April 6, 2013

Mini movie review: Paranorman

So, yeah, I'll get that season finale Walking Dead recap up tomorrow but in the meantime, here's this:

Paranorman is a stop-motion animated film from the production company who did Coraline.  Peopled with grotesques (in truth, the humans are almost more twisted than the otherworldly characters), it's a middling-clever movie, a visual treat that ends up a bit on the preachy side.  

Young Norman Babcock can see dead people.  The ghosts don't bother him - he likes watching zombie movies with his dead grandma and the hordes of spirits he encounters on his walk to school are unfailingly polite - it's the fact that the living people treat him like a freak that's the trouble.  Things get worse when his uncle, another spirit-seeing freak whom Norman is forbidden from seeing, hands off the family tradition to him: Norman must now keep the town's resident witch spirit placated, otherwise the dead will rise and run rampant through the town.  Of course, Norman messes it up, the vintage 18th century zombies claw their way out of their graves, and it's up to Norman, his new BFF Neil, a couple of older siblings and a hulking bully to bring things back to normal.  

The animation is great and the voices are well cast (Kodi Smit-McPhee, Christopher Mintze-Platz, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Leslie Mann, John Goodman ....).  But the tone of the movie shifts wildly from horror to comedy (Coraline did a much better job of maintaining the dread with pops of humor) and the lessons to be learned are hammered home none too subtly: be true to yourself; bullying is bad; accept others/don't be a crazed mob.  Even tho' this seems to be my kind of movie, I will admit to having dozed off for a little bit right at the end so it's possible I missed some particularly wonderful moment, but I didn't love Paranorman enough to go back later and revisit what I missed.

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