Thursday, August 30, 2012


Get out your ghosts and zombies, we're reviewing Paranorman!

Norman Babcock(Kodi Smit-McPhee) is an outsider at school, in town and even in his own family, all because he can see ghosts.  When a century-old curse threatens the town, he realizes that he's the only one who can stop it. But can he do it alone?

Paranorman is a perfect movie. I really can't stress that enough!  It's SOOOOOOO good you guys. The animation, the story, the soundtrack, just everything is amazing. This is probably going to be a shorter review because there's so little to talk about. It might be my favorite stop-motion movie ever. It's really good you guys!

Paranorman talks about alienation without hitting us over the head with it. It all feels real, as though you could see this happening to a kid.  Maybe this even happened to you.  The amount of bullying he gets from his classmates is reminiscent of every high school experience ever(kids are dumb and I hate them!).  I was surprised how adult the story felt. That's a weird thing to say for a kid's movie, but the places they go in Paranorman wouldn't get touched in other kids movies. It's genuinely terrifying, troubling and heart-warming. And twists come up to bite you just when you think it's getting generic!  I love that, even with so much saturation of zombies in every aspect of our subculture, they still find a way to do something fresh with it.

The character design and the attention to detail is phenomenal.  Just look at the shape variations of each character's head!  That's thanks to character designer Heidi Smith.  Each character is so different and such an embodiment of who they are. Norman sees ghosts, and his hair incessantly stands up on end.  His father is a big blustery guy who's always busting heads with norman.  His mother's head is a little lop-sided and she's very quiet and non-confrontational. It's amazing characterization.  And the animation!  It's a fluid mix of stop-motion and 3D all thanks to a new method using 3D printing.

I'm amazed at how much this is a love story to the 80's horror flick while still being in modern times. They take old cliches and put new spins on them.  Instead of taking out a flashlight in a dark house(which almost no one has), Norman takes out his cell phone to light the way(which everyone does).  The style and the color schemes are so beautiful, and the attention to detail on the sets, especially Norman's room, is astounding.  I can't imagine someone making every one of those zombie posters he has on his wall.

The score is one of the best of the year. It's a mix of cheesy 80's synth and emotional orchestral depending on how crazy things get, and I love it. Cinematically, the shots, pacing and staging are all beautiful.  And the ending credits are pure joy!  Also, the 3D is pretty fun, so I'd recommend it.

I found I liked this much more than Coraline, and I'm not sure why. Maybe because Paranorman is using themes and ideas I'm familiar with, or maybe because I like the setting and characters more. In any case, you should definitely go see it.  Unless, and this is hard to say for a kids movie, you scare easily, because it can get really terrifying near the end.  But Paranorman is pure fun from start to finish.

THE GOOD: Everything!

THE BAD: Nothing!

THE VERDICT: $$$$$ Go See it!

MOVIES LIKE IT: Coraline, Nightmare Before Christmas, Corpse Bride, Super 8

ONE-SCENE METAPHOR: You know when you first start to watch a movie and you see they did something special with the opening credits(the universe, fox, focus intros etc.) and you know you're in for a good time because they cared enough to think of everything? That's this movie.  I started smiling like an idiot at the opening and I didn't stop until the credits stopped rolling.

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