I’d been pretty disinterested in ParaNorman from the get go. It kind of reminded me of a Halloween-y The Ant Bully (remember that?) and I just couldn’t muster up the interest in it and, admittedly, I kind of went into the film blindly. I hadn’t seen a trailer or TV spot and I only read a handful of reviews. And realistically, who does that anymore? These days, when we go see a movie we’ve already been bombarded with 3 trailers, 20 TV spots, 10 posters, a podcast, advertising blitz, etc… that by the time you get there you’re already exhausted from it. When I say I’m exhausted from The Dark Knight Rises, I mean it. So, yes, I went into ParaNorman not knowing what to expect and I came out kind of…digging it.
Now, it’s not to say the film doesn’t have it’s problems because it has loads of them. It’s about 20 minutes too long (and at a 90 minute running time, that’s your first strike), the script is so limp that it feels stretched out and too many jokes fall flat. With that said, I don’t think there’s a Halloween themed movie out there that I hate so take this review with a grain of salt. Here’s how I’d describe ParaNorman, and it really sums it up perfectly: it’s Monster House meets Hocus Pocus meets Coraline meets an episode of Buffy. Which…awesome compliment, right?
Monster House is one of my favourite animated movies to come out in the last 10 years. I love it a lot, for the reasons stated above (see: anything that has to do with Halloween). And, much like MH, the film falls apart near the end. I feel that a lot of stop motion films fall apart in their third act and I don’t think I can answer why. ParaNorman is a beautiful stop-motion film though and if you loved the visuals of Coraline with the same kind of score and story, you’ll love this.
What I loved most about this film is the respect it paid to horror films prior. ParaNorman is in no way shape or form a horror movie – though, it has it’s jumpy moments – but it’s just so obviously inspired that it paid it’s respects in the most awesome of ways (keep an eye (and an ear) out for the Halloween/Friday The 13th reference, it made my life). The film is also a lot funnier than I expected. Like every animated film these days, it has the perfect mix of adult and child oriented humour but it also has so many “blink and you miss it” moments in the background to keep everyone engaged. The film can also, surprisingly, be really funny at times. The film boasts an awesome voice cast and though it’s going to go completely unnoticed at the box office and if Frankenweenie is half-way decent it’s going ot be COMPLETELY forgotten, but it’s definitely worth a watch.