‘ParaNorman’ is slickly entertaining and scary in all the right ways
Directed by Sam Fell and Chris Butler
Written by Chris Butler
For Laika, the animation studio that began its fledgling career with 2009’s lovely and perceptive stop-motion film Coraline, the bar was raised high for its sophomore effort. After Henry Selick impressed audiences with his adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s story, Laika’s next film would receive, perhaps, undue expectations. Though it’s a bit of a sophomore slump, their follow-up, ParaNorman, is a slickly entertaining and somewhat unexpected story that once again caters to more mature children. Its script isn’t tightly focused, but the film is still a fun romp.
Norman Babcock (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee) is a strange little boy living in the small New England town of Blithe Hollow. Everyone, including his bewildered parents (Jeff Garlin and Leslie Mann) and self-obsessed older sister (Anna Kendrick), agrees that he’s an odd child and for good reason: Norman can see dead people. He’s at the point in his life where he’s accepted this unique gift even if others bully him constantly. One day, Norman is warned by a local nutter (John Goodman) that only he can lift the mysterious witch’s curse that has plagued the town for three centuries; if he doesn’t, the dead will rise from the grave and incite mass terror and chaos. Norman joins forces with a few other kids to take down the zombie- and witch-related threat, as the adults in town turn quickly into an angry mob.