ParaNorman may feature fantastic animation and a great voice cast, but it is let down by a bland main character and isn’t as fun and exciting as what it could have been. The overall result is an average animated film.
Cert: PG Running Time: 92 minutes.
Misunderstood Norman Babcock isn’t your usual young boy, he has the ability to see the dead. Despite getting bullied for it, it seems he’s the only person who can save his town from an old curse.
Not believing in an afterlife is like not believing in astrology.
After hearing ParaNorman was from the makers of Coraline – I was sold. Coraline is a beautiful piece of animation, and a fantastic film in general, so I was anticipating ParaNorman for quite a while. The plot sounded good, the trailer looked interesting, and the animation looked fantastic. The result? Just an average animated film. ParaNorman features enough for young kids to enjoy but also manages to keep the adults entertained. Throughout the years, animated films have sometimes struggled to keep both kids and adults entertained, it seems puzzling why it’s a such a struggle to keep both sides interested in a film, but in all fairness, it is a hard task. Luckily, I find ParaNorman manages to find that balance, even if the result isn’t fantastic.
The film follows misunderstood Norman Babcock. Norman is someone who has an appreciation for horror flicks and has a bit of a bad reputation. Poor Norman is regarded as an outcast in the New England town of Blithe, and it isn’t much better in his home where both his father and sister find him weird and strange. The only family members who understand him are his mother Sandra, and his deceased grandmother – which only he can hear and see. It’s Norman’s communication with the dead that makes Norman an outcast in his community and no one believes that he can actually see the dead. It’s only when an evil curse threatens to destroy the town that everyone realises that Norman may be their only hope for survival.
Just like Coraline, ParaNorman features horror elements. ParaNorman may be a bit frightening for some children, but this film is perfectly capable of handling it. Paranorman features a pure kind of horror, in which the intention is to entertain and frighten without turning to tacky marketing gimmicks like gore, nudity and sex. With this film, a real story with a message is being told (although its not an original message, but it still works). I quite liked the film featured clever inside references, and that some specific scenes were styled after B-movies. If you’re a true horror fan and you don’t know what Norman’s ringtone is, you should be ashamed!
ParaNorman is entertaining, but not as fun as what I was hoping it to be. Sure, I got some laughs out of it, but that was it. The script relies on the recurring theme of acceptance and diversity, and this quickly moves the film into being quite predictable, even for an animated film. Nearly all the characters appear to be drawn imperfect, resulting in an attempt to remind the audience that we’re all different and no is perfect.
My main problem was with Norman, I get he is meant to be misunderstood, weird but likeable at the same time. However, Norman was just too bland for me, I didn’t dislike him or anything, I wanted him to succeed in his task to save the town, but if it weren’t for the supporting cast, I just wouldn’t care as much. In the end, Norman is upstaged by his fat sidekick friend Neil, his shallow sister Courtney, bully Alvin and Neil’s older brother. What I do find strange is that all these people are useless when helping Norman, and yet earlier in the film we meet a smart girl in Norman’s class that is stupidly ruled out from the story.
In conclusion, ParaNorman may feature fantastic animation and a great voice cast, but it is let down by a bland main character and isn’t as fun and exciting as what it could have been. The overall result is an average animated film.