“Grandma’s in a better place.”
“In the LIVING room?”
Since Norman has grown up in Blithe Hollow, a town with a rich history of witches and witch trials, it’s only natural that Norman is a little “ParaNorman.” But it gets him teased, and his creepy-crank of an uncle (voiced by John Goodman) won’t leave him alone. Norman has a destiny, his uncle says, a duty to lift the 300 year-old curse that’s hung over the town since one infamous witch trial centuries before. The witches are coming back to haunt the town. Only “ParaNorman” can save it.
“ParaNorman” is a stop-motion animated marvel from some of the same folks who gave us “Coraline” and “Corpse Bride,” and it wears its bloodlines with pride. It’s that rare kids’ movie with edge, a witchy, witty romp that could frighten the very youngest movie goers and makes parents blanche at some of the jokes. This isn’t “Ice Age,” children.
Norman, voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee of “The Road,” has a plump pal, Neil (Tucker Albrizzi). He has a shallow teen sister, Courtney (Anna Kendrick).
And he has a nemesis, the kid who torments him at school, and after school.
“You can’t stop bullying. It’s human nature.”
That would be Alvin, voiced by Christopher Mintz-Plasse.
But if Norman has a prayer of figuring out this curse and stopping the dead from taking over Blithe Hollow, he’ll need all their help — and then some.
“ParaNorman,” written by Chris Butler, an artist who worked on “Corpse Bride” and “Coraline,” and co-directed by Butler and Sam Fell ( “Flushed Away”) wears its anarchy well. They’ve made a genuinely spooky movie. But it’s a spooky picture with a morbid sense of humor.
The ghosts of those murdered by the town during it’s witch trials have more to fear from the armed, beer-swilling rubes they haunt than the town does from the ghosts. The odd faintly off-color remark passes the locals’ lips — as you’d expect — when the dead return to life.
Norman enlists friends, family and foes in his quest. He makes them take a vow keep it secret — “Swear!”
“You mean like the ‘F’ word?”
Equal parts scary, intense, emotional and humorous, “ParaNorman” is also a movie of messages, about what “scared, stupid people” are capable of (witch trials), of misjudging the “different” and the consequences of intolerance. That makes “ParaNorman” almost paranormal in its kids-movie ambitions, and that’s a good thing.
MPAA Rating: PG for scary action and images, thematic elements, some rude humor and language
Cast: The voices of Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick, John Goodman, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Casey Affleck
Credits: Directed by Chris Butler and Sam Fell, scripted by Chris Butler. A Focus Features release.
Running time: 1:33