Tuesday, August 21, 2012

ParaNorman Review

I started this blog in 2006 and I don't think I've ever written a movie review here. I was a movie last night that is making me change that.

PARANORMAN was at the top of my anticipated movie list. While everyone waited for the release of Avengers, Dark Knight Rises and Prometheus, I was sitting patiently thru the summer's heatwave for August 17th to arrive. 

Laika is the studio that brought us CORALINE, a wonderful movie based on fantastic novel by Neil Gaiman. They are masters at stop-motion animation and from footage I saw leading up to the movie, it seemed they were going to bring us more of what they do best. From the early look at the designs I knew I would love this movie on the art front alone, so it had to put very little effort past that to win me over. The ParaNorman crew has never heard the word VERY LITTLE EFFORT in their entire, crazy, scary talented lives.

What I expected: A cute kids movie crafted in the fun world of stop-motion animation. Some light jokes based on horror movie troupes that would play for both kids and adults. A story about an outcast kid that we've seen before but just not as pretty as this. 

What I got: My mind blown. I got a movie with a big heart and huge laughs and to top it off, genuinely scary. It was magical. 

First, I spent 15 minutes wondering how in the world they accomplished this movie. It was unlike any animation I had ever seen. The shot compositions rivaled any of your favorite live action movies. Every frame of the movie was gorgeous. 

There were moments of friendship that had me choked up a bit. The music choices were different but perfect. The laughs were in the writing, they felt natural and not just like gags. The voice talent helped sell that even more. And just when you think the spooky stuff is for.... ok, i'm stopping. It's too good for me to ruin.

Laika brought back something that we lost somewhere in the past 10 years or so. Movies for older kids. We got to a place where we have movies for adults or young kids. No real bridge. We grew up with ALL bridge. Goonies, Monster Squad, Stand By Me, Gremlins, ET, etc. This movie brought back the guts those old movies used to have. It brought me back to my childhood and hopefully it will be the start to someone else's. They'll add this to the list of great movies they grew up with. 

Go see ParaNorman. Support movies like this. We need more of them. 


KevinHarden said...


Great to see that all the effort to create all the detail, they didn't just gloss over the story itself..... Great movie.

Piero said...

Love your review...but now I can't wait for it!!!
(here in Italy it will arrive only at october 11th... -__- )

BeƱat Olea Irureta said...

Yeah, I can't wait to see it!! But in Spain it won't be realised until December, so...
"Movies for older kids". I think Tim Burton fullfills that mission perfectly!

Wow, I bought El Mago de Oz (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz) last week and your art is becoming really inspirational!
Great work and thank you for sharing it with all of us!

Andrew said...

This was also among my most anticipated movies of the year, and I could not agree more with your review. I loved most everything about this movie, ESPECIALLY the mind-blowing amount of artistry that went into making it.

It did very much feel like a movie of the 80's (in a good way), which is something I've missed.

I'm glad it's getting a lot of critical praise, but sorry that audiences don't seem to be turning out in huge numbers.

Chelsea Green said...

I’m glad to hear that Paranorman was a good one! My family didn’t get a chance to watch it this weekend since I was cooped up in my office at Dish, but we’re going to see it tonight! I never thought about how there are so little films for older kids until you mentioned it. My boy is just reaching that age where kid’s movies are too dumbed down for him and adult movies are too, well, adult. I’m going to have to rent him a few of those classics that you referred to and see if he likes them. They are all available to easily rent from the Blockbuster@Home service through my Dish account, which has tons of old and new movies, so I’ll have to give it a shot. I wouldn’t mind watching those movies again too!

Stevie Bullock said...

I can not wait to see this!! My 8th anniversary is this week so I'm gonna convince my husband to go with me! So gonna be worth it.

Dan Syens said...


I just have to say thanks again for writing often about this on Twitter leading up to the film's release! My fiancee and I checked it out yesterday and it was great! It felt to us, much like you described it, as something we would've grown up with at a slightly older age as children and it's definitely something missing nowadays! Very cool art, and a story with some guts and heart!

Thanks again!
Dan (And Sarah!)

C.Deboda said...

It is a visually stunning film indeed. You can pause the film pretty much at any moment and you'll get a strong composition. Love the 80's-ish music as well. Your review sounds spot on to me.

Michael Corley said...

I greatly enjoyed your review on the Fuzzy Typewriter podcast. I felt the exact same way when I was the chain link fence, "Oh wow, they took the time to film a fence just to get atmosphere"!

Please keep up the sketches, each new one is so fun to see.

Jarelle said...

Agreed, this movie was fantastic!