Heart and Brains: Andy Burns On ParaNorman

This weekend I caught up on one of the better zombie films to come along this year. I was hugely surprised at how much I enjoyed this tale of persecuted witches, sadistic townspeople and a strange boy with a supernatural ability.

With all that, it’s no wonder than ParaNorman was PG. Check out the trailer below and then hit the jump for my review.

Released this past August and available now on Blu-Ray, DVD and VOD, ParaNorman is the story of Norman, a young boy gifted with the ability to see and communicate with ghosts. Of course, nobody else he knows has the same ability, which makes him an outcast both at home and at school. Before long, Norman is tasked with keeping the town of Blithe Hallow, Massachusetts safe from a vengeful witch, sentenced to death some 300 years ago and who has cursed her jailers to return and unleash havoc. Along the way, he makes new friends, friends from enemies and has some seriously scary adventures.

As mentioned, ParaNorman is rated PG and it totally make sense. While designed for kids, there are some genuinely creepy moments throughout the film, along with some not so subtle nods to horror icons that adults are sure to get a kick from (I love Norman’s ringtone). Originally designed to be seen in 3D, the film works quite well on your average tv screen, though a few scenes were obviously meant to be popping out and in your face. The stop-motion animation is absolutely gorgeous, and the voice work from Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick, Tucker Albrizzi and the rest of the cast is very solid.

The only real flaw with ParaNorman is the script. Not the story, but the finished script. While much of it is smart and clever, it also goes on for far too long. At least, it felt like far too long. Both the Queen and I couldn’t believe the film was only 90 minutes, but there were some moments where the story simply dragged. Since we were sitting there checking our watches, I’m guessing a lot of kids might have issues sitting through the entire film.

If they do make it through ParaNorman, they’ll be rewarded with a thoughtful and entertaining introduction into the horror world, with a film full or heart and brains.

Lots of brains.

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