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.