As a 3d animated film about a bullied kid combating creatures rising from the grave, Paranorman is like a less gothic cousin to Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie.
Norman (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee) is an introverted kid who, like Hayley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense, sees dead people. His abilities make him an outcast at home and at school but also give him the chance to become a hero when an ancient witches curse unleashes supernatural horrors on his home town.
Visually, Paranorman is a treat as it employs stop-motion claymation and a new 3D format. The visual inspiration also extends to the closing credits which resemble classic monster magazine art work.
Paranorman also contains some fine voice work particularly from Aussie Kodi Smit-McPhee who seems to be popping up everywhere and makes Norman a likeable if slightly dark character. It’s also great to hear Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Jeff Garlin as Norman’s exasperated Dad.
I had a few issues with Paranorman though. For an animated film, the plot of Paranorman is too convoluted and contains too much talky exposition. It’s also unclear exactly which age group this film is aimed at. It seems designed for youngsters but it contains some adult gags that are inappropriate for a tween audience.
Another problem was that, like so many animated films Paranorman quickly turns into a cacophony of unbearably loud, grating action sequences.
The film also needed to be funnier, there are some amusing moments but the film’s gags too often rely on stereotyped characters such as nerds, dumb jocks, fat guys and vacuous teen girls.
As is usually the case with animated films, Paranorman contains a fairly obvious message about acceptance and tolerance but it delivers this with sensitivity rather than cheesiness.
This is a generally fun movie but doesn’t stand out in the sea of animated films flooding cinemas this holiday season.
Nick’s rating: Three stars.
Director(s): Chris Butler, Sam Fell
Release date: 10th Jan 2013
Running time: 92 mins.
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