One doesn’t see many stop-motion animation movies anymore. Perhaps it is because of the large time investment it takes or maybe due to the domination of computer animation. Whatever the case, however, it is always a delight when a new such feature comes to the market. Naturally Paranorman found a place in my heart even before I witnessed its tale.
The film follows eleven year old Norman as he struggles to understand his gift, or curse, of seeing dead people. Bullied at school every day and surrounded by family members who believe he was gone insane or is struggling with the death of his grandmother, Norman is not the happiest kid. The plot thickens more after his uncle, an eccentric loner, dies and subsequently coerces Norman into filling his role of reading to a long dead witch in order to keep her spirit in the netherverse.
Everything concerning the movie’s development is charming and well done. The voice actors hit their marks with gusto, the animation is wonky but modern, and the music fits the surreal setting with a decadently retro-vibe. This is in addition to the plot which takes some interesting turns reflecting a thread of bullying and overcoming hate. Finishing off with a controversial social-inclusion, I was delighted to finally view Paranorman.
While it wasn’t the most revolutionary movie, nor the longest, it was a refreshing break from the Hollywood epic action rumbles; one can only take so many super-powered villains threatening to enslave the world before longing for more spiritually fulfilling material sets in. In this regard I am glad to say that Paranorman was that spiritual movie. While not religious, obviously, Paranorman harkens back to an age where children’s movies taught their audience an important life lesson in a non-patronizing manner. If you are searching for a film of a humorous but positive force you could do a lot worse than Paranorman.