ParaNorman scores high points for originality and craftsmanship…

First of all, I love stop-motion animation and I also love it when kid-centric films do not insult children. Treat them with respect–speak clear and they will understand and hear your message. ParaNorman does that successfully. It is an original take on accepting and loving yourself and they even throw in the affects of bullying. Nicely done.

This is the second feature released by Laika Animation (the first being the 2009 Coraline–which is one of my favorites). And again, they stay in the adventure/horror genre. This time though they turn it on its ear.  Things are not quite what they seem in Norman’s universe and they have fun exploring all the clichés (“Not   all witches have to be ugly? Of course, they are…they’re meant to sell key chains.”).

The film was written and co-directed by Chris Butler (first feature) and the experienced animator director Sam Fell. Together they do an excellent job of building the characters around this unique premise. As a zombie/horror fan, I appreciated all the cool nudges to the classics.  It is at once touching, poignant and funny. The skill and patience that it takes to create this medium is incredible.  The result is nothing short of amazing.

The voice talent is perfect and surprising. I could easily make out John Goodman, but Casey Affleck, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Anna Kendrick were unrecognizable–so cool.  Kodi Smith-McPhee (Let Me In) as Norman and Tucker Albrizzi as Neil are both wonderful (and kind of look like their 10 inch figures).

Overall, this is a great story, cleverly done. It may a bit too scary or gory for young kids (depending on their exposure) and although it does not reach Nightmare Before Christmas iconic status and it’s not even as perfectly crafted as Coraline, it is still a cool addition to the genre that I am sure will continue to grow in cult status. I foresee Halloween viewing in my future. 😀

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