Review by Matthew Schuchman
If I had my way, every animated feature would be created via stop motion. Even with todayâ€™s super advanced computers able to create purely digital images that mimic their real world counterparts, stop motion animation exudes a joyful aura computers canâ€™t reproduce. Funny and cheeky at times, ParaNorman loses a bit of that joyful manner when it explores the twisted heart of its tale. This surprising journey makes ParaNorman exceptionally interesting and powerful, but it may turn some parents off.
At its heart, ParaNorman is just another morality tale dealing with racism and bigotry and how we attack what we are scared of. However, the unflinching atrocity that makes up the center of ParaNorman is so gut wrenching and sophisticated that it feels too grown up to be part of a cute, animated tale. Itâ€™s bold and brash in ways, and completely poignant when held up against most of todayâ€™s hot button issues. While itâ€™s obvious things are not what they seem and the movie trots along, the truth of it all (while being slightly obvious) is an earth shattering shock, especially in the way itâ€™s visually represented. While Coraline (the previous film Laika Studios worked on) was darker on the whole in its full presentation, the serious and even some of the lighter bits of ParaNorman donâ€™t scream kids movie to me. This should not be seen as a deterrent or warning, but as a statement of praise.
Undeniably, there will be parents who take their children to see ParaNorman and think it was inappropriate for the age range of their youngest. Iâ€™ve seen a few animated features recently, geared toward kids that felt way too dark and violent for small ones. ParaNorman however, gets high marks for its dark tone. This is meant to shake you up, while completely entertaining you of course. In many venues today, people think we are coddling the youth of the world too much. The world has become a place where adults do horrible things, but children are shielded from the truth; ParaNorman is here to say, â€œNo more!â€ Itâ€™s not about to hide the truth from your childrenâ€™s eyes.
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In Theaters August 17, 2012
Directed by: Chris Butler, Sam Fell
Written by: Chris Butler
Featuring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick and Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Plot: A misunderstood boy who can speak with the dead, takes on ghosts, zombies and grown-ups to save his town from a centuries-old curse.