Directed by: Chris Butler and Same Fell Written by: Chris Butler Cinematography by: Tristan Oliver Original Music by: Jon Brion
Premise: Norman can see and talk to ghosts, but his family doesn't believe him and the kids at school think he's a freak. Then he meets his reclusive uncle, who tells Norman he has a duty he has to take on - keeping the witch asleep so she won't raise the dead. Except the instructions Norman gets from him aren't complete and he's not able to figure out what to do before the dead rise from their graves! (Rated PG)
1) Voice Acting - Total Thumbs Up: All the voice actors were great. Kudos to Kodi Smit-McPhee and Tucker Albrizi for their portrayals of Norman and Neal. Yet the most fun came from some of the side actors, like Tempestt Bledsoe. Her character, Sheriff Hooper, was quite funny.
2) Artwork/Animation - Total Thumbs Up: "ParaNorman" is the work of Laika Entertainment. I'd originally thought the film was purely CGI art, but it was more than that. "ParaNorman" is actually a work of stop motion photography! Each of the puppets has an inner metal skeleton to help pose the puppet for each frame. The official website stated that just the zombies rising from the grave scene took a year to film. Dang.
Add to the great puppetry some beautifully and super detailed sets as well as added special effects, and the results are quite amazing. There were many, very well done, visual gags that added a lot of flavor to the film.
3) Plot/Story - Thumbs Up: While the main gist of the story was predictable, there were still several surprises in the plot. These surprises made for nice plot twists and take the story in a direction at several places that the audience will not anticipate but totally appreciate.
There was a lot of subtle humor sprinkled throughout the film. The scene with the man waiting for his chips to come out of the vending machine then seeing the zombies coming for him and his reaction to the situation was hilarious. There were also several in-jokes to give more fun to the adults. The Scooby Doo reference made me laugh out loud it was so unexpected. Homage was even given to the old black and white monster movies, the lettering styles and posters very much like those in that era. One of the sneakiest jokes was about the Puritan zombies and their seeing a poster for a witch casino, advertising all the vices they'd come to the new world to get away from. By seeing such a thing in the middle of their town, I am sure they felt cursed indeed.
Conclusion: A fun movie with plenty of fodder for the adults as well as the kids. The few gross moments will definitely give the kids a nice thrill.
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Matinee Price)