Daily News header

ParaNorman Movie Review: I See Dead Cartoons

By     get stories by email

ParaNorman co-directors Chris Butler and Sam Fell may have a lot more on their metaphorical plate than just mining realism and familiarity from fantasy. And perhaps even more so, the typical cinematic challenge of rendering an animated movie pleasingly digestible for kids and adult audiences alike.

Borrowing a bit from the spooky pandemonium put forth by M. Night Shyamalan's classic horror sensation, The Sixth Sense, this 3D stop motion comedic chiller is also faced with the formidable task at hand of crafting scary moves that are likewise silly enough, so as to summon delight rather than dread in the tender and vulnerable young minds in the theaters. And well it does, as its eleven year old persecuted protagonist Norman Babcock survives the dual ordeal of warding off both bullies and ghosts. In other words, I see dead cartoon characters.

Norman (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is a young schoolboy and kid pariah sulking away his days in the quite murky Massachusetts hamlet of Blithe Hollow. Tormented at school by Alvin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), a bully who can't seem to spell, and berated at home by his cranky parents (Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin) and shallow mean girl teenage sister Courtney (Anna Kendrick), Norman spends his time, much to his family's annoyance, hanging on the living room couch with Grandma. Who happens to be quite dead and invisible to everyone else, even if she nags about the heat not being turned up enough. While refusing as well to make her way to the afterlife, because there's no cable television there.

And in a multiplicity of plot threads which may sound overloaded but actually aren't, as the surreal goes down nicely with a chaser of creepy current events playing out on this small town turf, the horrors of buried local history are reawakened too. And that have a lot to do with who may or may not have been declared witches during those trials back in the 17th century, and why. And what it may all have to do with schoolyard bullies in the here and now. Whew.

Not to worry, when it comes to the kid friendly meter. Those hordes of zombies on the loose evoke less gothic horror than humor, and primarily giggle-inciting ghoulish nonsense. Which unfortunately at various points in time, also tends to have them lose a bit too much of their taunting edge, and seriously overstay their welcome.

But what makes ParaNorman ultimately such an emphatic delight, is the genuine emotional core at the heart of its glum young outsider's perspective on life - or the undead - around him. Especially when it comes to just how otherworldly adults can seem in a solidly cartoonish universe - from a child's vantage point from the ground up - and all those freaky magnified bulging bellies and backsides surrounding him.

Focus Features
Rated PG
3 stars

Prairie Miller is a NY multimedia journalist online, in print and on radio, and on WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network's Arts Express. Read more reviews by Prairie Miller. Contact Prairie through NewsBlaze. Read more stories by Prairie Miller.

  Please click this get stories by email button to be notified about future stories, and please leave a comment below.

  Please leave a comment here     If it does not display within 10 seconds, please refresh the page

Related Movie Reviews News

Doctors didn't buy the babysitter's story that it was all the result of an accident. Proof rested in the fact that the creep quickly slipped out of town before subsequently disappearing from the radar entirely.
Directed by Francis Lawrence, the movie stars Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, supported by Josh Hutcherson as Peeta, Liam Hemsworth as Gale, Woody Harrelson as Haymitch...
Horrible Bosses 2 does have its moments, a captivating car chase during which our heroes drag a chain link fence onto the freeway while on the run from the authorities.
The Thanksgiving celebration will be more lavish and fabulous when family sit together to watch the fresh DVD releases for this week!
For movies opening November 21, 2014, here are the must-see movies of the week, including The Hunger Games : Mockingjay Part 1
On TV, Jeffrey Wright appears on HBO's Boardwalk Empire, as Dr. Valentin Narcisse, Doctor of Divinity, student of culture and the man who runs Harlem.

 

NewsBlaze Writers Of The Month



Popular Stories This Month

newsletter logo

NewsBlaze
Copyright © 2004-2014 NewsBlaze Pty. Ltd.
Use of this website is subject to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy  | DMCA Notice               Press Room   |    Visit NewsBlaze Mobile Site