ParaNorman Movie Review

The most surprising thing about this lively 3D stop-motion adventure is the way it never talks down to children. It recognises that kids like to be scared at the movies, and that they have a more sophisticated understanding of adults and relationships than we give them credit for. As a result, it's a movie that's both hilariously silly and genuinely creepy. And the superbly written and voiced characters will appeal to young and old viewers alike.

It's set in the sleepy town of Blithe Hollow, a tourist village cashing in on its grisly history of 18th century witch trials. This is where Norman (Smit-McPhee) lives, which is a bit annoying since he can speak to the ghosts which are lurking everywhere. His parents (Mann and Garlin) dismiss this as a childhood fantasy, while his boy-obsessed teen sister (Kendrick) just ignores him. At school, the class bully (Mintz-Plasse) makes his life miserable, and just when Norman thinks things can't get worse, his vagabond uncle (Goodman) tells him that he's the next in line to make sure the town's legendary witch doesn't enact her curse on the 300th anniversary of her death.

The filmmakers give Norman an obsession with cheesy horror movies, which allows them to have a lot of fun with the visual look of the whole film, referencing the classics through clever images and witty throwaway gags that fill the dialog. This in turn gives the voice cast a lot to work with, creating vivid characters we really care about. We're even surprised to find that, as we get to know the story's "baddies", it's human failings that have caused all of the trouble, not evil intent.

In other words, this is a remarkably complex film that addresses some big issues while it's entertaining us on a variety of levels. At the centre is a telling exploration of bullying, including the legacy left behind when we fail to understand people who we think are different. Even more important is the way the film tackles the culture of fear head-on, teaching us that we need to use our fear to bring out positive actions rather than lashing out at those we can't be bothered to understand. Which of course isn't a message just for kids.

Rich Cline

Cast & Crew

Director : Chris Butler, Sam Fell

Producer : Travis Knight, Arianne Sutner?

Comments

ParaNorman Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: PG, 2012

Advertisement

More Kodi Smit-mcphee

The Congress Movie Review

Fiercely original and wildly ambitious, this provocative drama is often thrilling simply because it's like nothing ever put on-screen. This means that it can be...

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

Director Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) ramps up this reboot franchise with a strikingly well-written action-drama, which takes an unusually complex route through the story. By refusing...

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes Trailer

In a post-apocalyptical Earth inhabited by only the few humans who survived the viral pandemic that wiped out most of human civilisation less than ten...

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes Trailer

Caesar was the world's first genetically modified ape, who was more than let down by his supposedly caring human conterparts as he grew older and...

Advertisement

The Congress Trailer

'The Princess Bride' actress Robin Wright plays a fictional idea of herself, as someone struggling to land acting roles despite her immense fame decades ago....

Romeo And Juliet Trailer

The stars of the upcoming adaptation of 'Romeo and Juliet' Douglas Booth, Hailee Steinfeld, Ed Westwick, Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti as well as costume...

Romeo and Juliet Trailer

Romeo and Juliet are two young lovers whose lives together cannot escape their inevitable tragic fate. They are from opposite feuding families; Romeo is a...

Dead Europe Trailer

Isaac is an avid photographer whose recently deceased father encouraged his passion throughout his childhood growing up in Australia. Following his father's funeral, he is...

Advertisement