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ParaNorman Review: A New Halloween Classic

Posted 5 years ago by Movies

ParaNorman

I love Coraline. I’ve always been a huge stop-motion nerd, but Coraline got me really excited about the medium again, and I’ve been waiting and waiting for Laika’s second movie to hit theaters. ParaNorman looked amazing from the first teaser, but could the new studio pull off another awesome animated film without Henry Selick’s directing or Neil Gaiman’s story?

I was really worried ParaNorman would be all style and no substance. Thankfully I was wrong.

I’m having a really hard time coming up with anything in this movie I didn’t like. The animation is incredible, the story is original, and it’s very funny. This is not a movie that could have been made by Disney, or even Dreamworks. There are jokes that are bold for a ‘kid’s movie’ to make, and it feels like it was written by people instead of a committee.

The Story

Norman is a kid who has a special ability that makes leading a normal life very hard. Kids make fun of him and his parents don’t understand him. The film doesn’t waste any time and jumps right in to Norman’s life when he receives a shocking assignment from his crazy uncle, creepily portrayed by John Goodman.

ParaNorman just oozes Halloween and nostalgia, two things I love. I have never been into horror movies, but I can still relate to kids staying up all night in front of the console TV, eating snacks, and playing with action figures. For you horror movie buffs though, the nods and references alone will make you love this movie. When was the last time you saw a movie in the theater that started off with a 4:3, analog-looking ‘Feature Presentation’ screen? And if you like that, just wait until the end credits.

The casting is great in ParaNorman too. John Goodman is probably the biggest name attached to the movie, and there’s no Dreamworks-esque let’s-stuff-as-many-famous-names-in-this-movie-as-we-can thing going on. The voices all perfectly blend in with their characters.

ParaNorman lives in Blithe Hollow, a small New England town that proudly promotes their shady history with a certain Witch from the 18th Century. When his uncle dies and leaves him with a very important task, the whole town goes to hell while Norman and his new friends set off to save the day.

The story has a very Goonies-like feel to it, which is awesome. Norman makes a new friend in Neil, the kid who gets made fun of for being fat but doesn’t really mind. The fat sidekick is a cliche in movies like this, but Neil is hilarious and I could have watched a movie all about him. A bully played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse gets tangled up in the plot, as well as Norman’s older sister and Neil’s buff brother.

Oh, and there’s zombies.

The Verdict

I was wondering how they were going to pull off a kid’s zombie movie, but it really works. The town of Blithe Hollow turns into an ugly mob when the zombies appear, and at that point the townspeople seem like the real monsters of the movie. The story constantly goes in directions you don’t really expect from a kid’s movie, and the jokes and visual gags keep it all fun and not too serious.

For me, ParaNorman is a new Halloween classic. As someone who gravitates towards spooky kid’s movies rather than actual horror films, it’s right up my alley. ParaNorman needs to come out on Blu-ray as soon as possible so I can add it to my Halloween list, next to movies like Monster House, Coraline, Ernest Scared Stupid, and Nightmare Before Christmas.

I hope ParaNorman makes a ton of money, because Laika is obviously a new animation studio to watch out for and I’d love them to be able to keep making movies like these. Go see it, because I can almost guarantee that if you’re reading a site like this you are going to love this movie.

  • Cody Mix

    Glad to hear this came out good, I had high hopes after learning it was made by the same people who did “Coraline” (which was great). Cannot wait to see this for myself thanks for the review!

  • I can’t wait to see this. I had to travel and visit family last weekend, or else I would have gone. This weekend I’ll be heading back to the beach and I think I’ll try to squeeze this in at the IMAX. I confess I didn’t read your full review for fear of spoilers, but I can tell from your headline that it’s going to be awesome!

    • It’s playing in IMAX?? Damn I need to see it again!

      • Er, I probably should have qualified that statement… It’s playing AT an IMAX theater, not “in” IMAX format…if that makes sense. Some theaters are branded as IMAX because of their upgraded sound & picture quality, even if they don’t have the ginormous screens. It would be awesome if it was the latter, though!

  • Completely agree with you. Loved this film. And you’re right–they managed to pull off a “kid’s zombie theme” with style. Guess the moment when the townsfolk turn the tables on the zombie’s it keeps it from being too scary.