The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Kids’ zombie movie dark, deep cartoon

By Joshua Knopp/special assignments editor
ParaNorman is basically awesome.
The animated film’s title character (kind of), Norman Babcock (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee) sees dead people and has a habit of saying “hi” to them in the street. He’s ostracized in school, and even in his own home, because of this. His uncle (John Goodman) can also communicate with ghosts, and when he dies early in the film, Babcock inherits his uncle’s responsibility of protecting the New England town from an old curse once a year.

Norman Babcock (Kodi Smit-McPhee) looks through records to find a lost grave. The supporting voice cast is great in ParaNorman, including Anna Kendrick, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Bernard Hill.
Photo courtesy Focus Feature

Babcock inherits this responsibility without instruction, training or context and on the night of that year’s event. Chaos ensues.

ParaNorman’s main draw has to be its stop-motion animation. Churned out over a process of two years, the film takes stop-motion animation to new heights, incorporating vivid special effects into a visual style that typically doesn’t allow for them.

More than that, it’s good, solid animation. Sets are designed thoughtfully, characters are executed with flair and the climax is simply spectacular.

The story, on the other hand, is supposed to be the letdown of ParaNorman, but that really doesn’t hold up. ParaNorman is blessed with a deep, thoughtful script fully capable of taking the audience for an emotional ride. When push comes to shove, viewers will care about what happens to the characters on-screen — even the zombies.

For a supposed kids movie, ParaNorman runs with some very mature themes in this area.
Bullying is handled as if the film is aimed at adults, and most of the characters’ motivations are detailed enough that full understanding of the plot will probably start at age 9 or 10. The film is also genuinely scary in a handful of sequences, further inflating the appropriate age.

At the same time, most of the humor is aimed at ages 5 to 7. If there is a downfall to ParaNorman, it’s this aspect. While the rest of the movie is flowing along just fine for ages 10 and up, every now and again it’ll stop to elicit cheap giggles from younger viewers and break its own momentum.

For the most part, this is easily ignorable. For anyone tired of action movies or looking for a piece that’s driven emotionally as well as visually, ParaNorman is the thing to see.

 

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