Norman (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is your average-everyday stop-action animated boy that has a fascination with the paranormal. One of his favorite pastimes was watching classic zombie films on the television with his grandmother…his dead grandmother. Yes, Norman can see dead people, in fact he would rather interact with ghosts than living people, as he feels more at home with them as he is a social outcast among his family and peers.
Like any outcast stories, a likely friendship forms with another outcast named Neil Downe (Tucker Albrizzi), bullied not for seeing the dead, but for his weight. When visions begin plaguing Norman’s life prophesying a terrible return of a witch killed in the town years ago, Norman must find a way to stop it from happening. The ghost of his dead Uncle tells him the only way to stop the witch from returning with an army of the dead is to perform a ritual at the spot where she died. Of course, Norman runs into obstacles stopping him from performing the ritual, so he has to find some other way to perform the ritual before the zombies finally find him and eventually the town.
The use of the animation style was the perfect gateway to lay down the messages and inspirational meaning behind the film. It is abundantly clear that this film would like to stress the importance of deceiving appearances, and the evils and destruction that judgment and bullying can bring along with it. All of these messages were explained in a way that both children and adults alike will catch onto and equally respect.
Visually, this film is stunning. Stop-action animation is sometimes give or take, and they did a good job making everything look cinematic and visually appealing. If you pay attention, you would notice that the cut-aways and establishing shots weren’t ignored during the production. They are actually very well done, as are the character’s designs. You can tell when designing each of the characters that they weren’t loosely or randomly put together, they were meticulously and carefully managed and nitpicked on each and every character, house, building, and even weather patterns. While other stop-action movies have an underlining noticeability of being just that…stop-action, “ParaNorman” follows a story that will make you forget all about the animation, as the great, solid story simply hooks you right in.
This film is an instant classic. The look, feel, and writing all tie in together to actually make a very well done and thought out movie. “ParaNorman” also has a level of familiarity involved with it. It gives off the feeling that we’ve all seen it before, even though we haven’t. There are a number of similar films to “ParaNorman“, at least in regards to certain elements. Somehow, it all makes sense and works pretty splendidly. There is no comparison, this film should have came out years ago, and it may well have made filmmakers ask themselves why they didn’t think of that.
I would recommend checking this film out if you haven’t already. “ParaNorman” releases on DVD and Blu-Ray on Nov. 27!