Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Jodelle Ferland, Bernard Hill
Director: Sam Fell, Chris Butler
Running Time: 92 mins
ParaNorman is an American film about a young boy who is able to talk to ghosts, and despite being derided by those around him, becomes the only person who can save his town from a devastating curse.
Laika really hit the ground running in 2009 with Coraline, which blended gorgeous animation and family-friendly fantasy with gripping storytelling and resonant emotion. ParaNorman follows in its wake with another family-friendly horror-themed story, and it’s a lot of fun to watch, albeit lacking the emotional depth of Coraline.
First, the positives. Once again, Laika has made an absolutely gorgeous movie with ParaNorman, filled with unique and characterful stop-motion animation that makes it an utter joy to watch. What’s more, the contrast between its darker, moody visual colour palette and the goofier nature of its story and comedy works really nicely, and gives the film a really entertaining identity.
As I said, it’s not quite as psychologically intense as Coraline was, but as far as a fun-loving, light-hearted adventure story goes, there’s a lot to love about ParaNorman, and it delights with action and humour for both kids and adults.
The fantasy and adventure is squarely aimed at kids, but lacks the surprisingly hard-hitting emotional resonance of Coraline to make it enthralling for adults too. When it comes to the comedy, however, there’s a really nice spread of gags for both kids and adults that fits the film’s atmosphere nicely.
Goofy and silly at moments, there’s a lot to make kids laugh here, but ParaNorman throws in an impressive amount of jokes just for the adults. Sometimes that can come off as a bit jarring in a family movie, but ParaNorman’s small tendency towards darker themes makes it fit in just that little bit better.
Unfortunately, the movie isn’t able to wrestle with some of the deeper and darker ideas that it occasionally strikes up, but the fun-filled nature of its adventure, action, humour and animation makes it a more than lovable movie nonetheless. So, that’s why I’m giving ParaNorman a 7.3 overall.