ParaNorman (2012) Review for Halloween Horror Fest

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ParaNorman (2012)

Directed by Sam Fell & Chris Butler

Starring Voice Actors:
Kodi Smit-McPhee
Jodelle Ferland
Tucker Albrizzi
Anna Kendrick
Casey Affleck
Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Leslie Mann
Jeff Garlin
Bernard Hill
Elaine Stritch
Tempestt Bledsoe
John Goodman
Alex Borstein

Studio: Laika

Distributed by: Focus Features
Universal Pictures (International)

Running time: 92 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Norman Babcock is able to see & speak with the dead. No one, including his family, believes him and he’s ridiculed & bullied at school. But it’s soon up to Norman to save his town from an old witch’s curse.

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This is my second review for my Halloween Horror Fest. I first reviewed From Beyond (which was pretty messed up). I liked the sound of ParaNorman after reading Abbi’s review at Where The Wild Things Are HERE. She liked it okay so I figured it must be good as she’s not a huge fan of this sort of kids’ stuff usually. 🙂

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My Opinion:

ParaNorman was a pleasant surprise. I really enjoyed it! This is from the same studio that made Coraline, which I fell asleep in the middle of in 2009 and haven’t yet bothered to finish. I know that was more highly rated & looked great but I really didn’t find it any fun to watch. ParaNorman is fun & a few things actually made me laugh (I’m not a “laugh out loud” person).

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Norman can see all of the dead people in his small town of Blithe Hollow, Massachusetts, including his own grandmother (who lives in Norman’s living room & watches zombie movies with him). His father doesn’t believe him and wants him to start acting “normal”. His sister and his schoolmates think he’s a freak. One day an overweight bullied boy named Neil Downe befriends Norman after he sees him being bullied as well. I loved Neil! He’s a typical dorky chubby kid in a movie but he’s so sweet & funny that you can’t help but like him. He’s the first one to believe Norman & thinks it’s really cool that he can talk to the dead (As he says to Norman: “Can you see my dog, Bub? He was hit by an animal rescue van. Tragic and ironic.”). Ha! Well, it was funny in the movie.

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I think what makes this film better than a lot of other kids’ films (Other than Pixar. Sorry – Nothing beats Pixar!) is the fact that it’s aimed at a higher age so a lot of the jokes and references are “older” and will also be funny to the adults watching it. I’m not talking anything risquĂ© (I don’t think that has a place in a kids’ film) but things such as a great reference to Halloween (the movie, not the holiday). Loved that! And a Friday The 13th gag that was pretty damn funny too.

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And speaking of that, it was great that this film has a clear love of old scary movies (traditional stuff – zombies, witches, etc). Norman’s room is full of classic movie monster toys, posters, a cool alarm clock, etc. It reminds me how little I’ve watched the old horror classics (Vincent Price, Hammer Horror, that kind of stuff…). It gives this film a great “Halloween” feel (the holiday, not the movie). This movie actually reminded me a bit of the 1986 Amazing Stories episode called “Go To The Head Of The Class”. I used to watch that EVERY October but had sort of forgotten about it until Norman made me think of the teenage boy in that (Scott Coffey), who is obsessed with classic horror films & agrees to perform some black magic on his mean old teacher (Christopher Lloyd) to impress a girl (Mary Stuart Masterson). Oh man – I want to watch that again. It’s been years! Hell – I’ll watch it and do a mini review later. Let’s finish talking about ParaNorman instead…

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Summary:

ParaNorman is a great family film for the slightly older kids (maybe 8 or 9 and up but don’t quote me on that in case your 8-year-old is traumatized) that the adults will enjoy as well thanks to some genuinely funny stuff and references to horror classics. There’s still a “moral to the story” for the kids but it’s not a Disney-style one that’ll make the adults gag – It’s actually a good one for pre-teens. A pleasant surprise and a fun watch for this adult.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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Sorry – that review was even more rubbish than usual because I’ve just realized that if I’m going to manage this Horror Fest I’ve planned, I’m going to have to post one review every day until Halloween now. Argh! So they’ll be written quickly…

Oh – Here’s another ParaNorman quote that made me giggle like an 11-year-old boy:

Mr. Prenderghast: [hiding behind statue] Psst!
Neil: [whispers to Norman] I think that statue just pissed at us.

Hahaha! I loved Neil. I’m immature…

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