So I finally rectify my criminal shortcoming in not seeing Paranorman in the cinema! I have to say, I wish I hadn’t made myself wait so long.
From the creators of Coraline comes another intense, entertaining family film set in a small town that labours under a history of witchcraft and prosecution of witches. Norman is a quiet child who has the strange power of speaking to ghosts, and while people around him call him names and put him down, his power is about to be the one thing that can save the whole town from black magic.
That’s the short description anyway, Paranorman is a lot more than the advertised supernatural comedy/adventure. There’s plenty of social context in the movie in relation to the prejudices of old still resounding today, as well as a heartfelt and family driven theme.
Much like with Coraline, I respect this film for its gutsy and challenging look towards children’s films; it is fun and has great humour but it never condescends and never dumbs down its audience for sake of cheap laughs. Some parents might find it dark… but this is the sort of thing I was brought up with, and I can safely say I would love this as a kid.
Asthetically too the film is gorgeous. I am a big fan of stop-frame animation, but there is a fine line where it is perfect for me; the point where you can still see the seams, but not jerky (Corpse Bride is an example of the style becoming too perfect) Here it is characterful.
The music too is great and really adds to the haunting and quirky atmosphere that is loaded into every frame of the film.
A lot of people say the characters are stereotypical and one-dimensional: the weedy, nerdy kid; the vain blonde sister; the dumb jock; the socially awkward fat kid… But it is so obviously deliberate I didn’t have a problem with it, their dialogue is wonderful throughout, and these characters make me think of old 80s and 90s cartoons.
Overall, Paranorman is one of those films that actually lived up to the hype I had been hearing, and I would recommend it for everyone (yes, even the very young!) to see it around Halloween time.
Additional Marshmallows: It is obvious to me now how Paranorman completely trounced Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie when they both released last year! They both have some similarities, but this is how you do it.