ParaNormon Paraphrased: A Movie Review

19 Aug

Norman isn’t normal–in fact–he’s paranormal–as the trailers would have you believe. My  little brother and I, both avid fans of movies such as Coraline, Corpse Bride and of course, the classic stop-animation recollection from my childhood, Nightmare Before Christmas decided that we absolutely had to see ParaNorman. In the dark of the old-fashioned Cameo Theater in Weymouth, we munched happily on candies and waited eagerly for the film to start. The best part? I only paid $5 per ticket for this lovely Sunday Matinee–and aside from my kid brother and myself, there was only four other people in the entire theater. But come the end of the film we found that ParaNoraman slightly missed the mark, and pales in comparison to our other stop-motion favorites.

Following the recent trend of Gothic looking characters and backgrounds in stop-motion, Paranorman opened up right away with our main hero, Norman, watching an old-time cheesy Zombie movie with his grandmother, which gives the audience a sort of foreshadowing as to what sort of mischief Norman will lead the audience into later. Norman is called into the kitchen by his parents to take out the trash and is asked by his Grandmother to ask them to turn up the heat, as she’s terribly cold. Norman scoots off to his parents in the kitchen–and the audience is straight away confronted with the aggressive, non-supportive father figure and the over lovey feeling mother character.  When Norman asks for the heat to be turned up for his Grandmother–it’s explained that his Grandmother is dead. His Father, it is made clear in the first few moments of the movie, and regularly enough throughout the film to make me dislike him, thinks Norman is a freak. His  older sister Courney, seems to agree. His mother takes a more open-minded, but level approach–but is almost to the point of being unbearably understanding throughout the whole film. All the same, this scene makes it clear to us that Norman can see and speak to the dead. That’s about where the charm in this movie ended for me.

Unlike it’s predecessors, ParaNorman stuck with an extremely modern undertone throughout the whole film. The old-timey, good-old-days charm that films such as Coraline or Corpse Bride held are essentially lost in ParaNorman. I believe it is for this reason that the film just didn’t give off that same feel-good vibe that we had come to expect. Like the Corpse Bride, the movie takes a long look at death–a rather weighty subject for most adults, never mind children–but the constant heaviness that comes with it, the constant battering of negative comments at Norman the main character and the ultimately dark lesson of accepting others cruelness as their fear, accepting whatever that makes them do to you and moving on made this film really not sit well with me.

On the plus side, the animation in this film is really well done. Compared to the stop-go motion of old, like Gumby and Pokey, it’s amazing to see how far stop-go animation has come. Most things look impressive and rather realistic as far as stop-go puppets go. Also, this movie is really genuinely trying to reach out to the newer generation. (Just in a rather negative scope.) Bullying is a major focus of the film, as is the acceptance of people different than you. ( Spoiler! The biggest reach out was that Mitch turns out to have a boyfriend.)  But other than that the movie is very much real to life–people are mean to each other, people are stupid, people judge and life tends to be crap–which isn’t what I personally go to see an animated film for. And I expect wasn’t what my kid brother had hoped for either. He put it best to sum up this movie when I asked what he had thought when he said,

“It was okay.” with a shrug of his shoulders.

On the Suddenleighanyonymous scale this movie rates a three out of ten. Another wait for DVD or rental or if you can avoid spending more than $5 on a movie ticket.

 

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