Wednesday, August 29, 2012


What a sweet movie!  Sweet but still totally scary.  I actually jumped a couple of times. 

I saw the panel for ParaNorman at Comic-Con this year and got really excited about seeing the film.  In a slightly tangential side note, have you noticed the kids movies coming out (ParaNorman, Hotel Transylvania, and Frankenweenie) all have supernatural slants to them? Nifty.  Anywhoodle, ParaNorman has been getting great reviews but not doing incredibly well at the box office.  It got a respectable $14 mil its opening weekend but kids' movies usually do better.  I wonder if the subject matter is keeping them home.  It's a shame because subject matter (aka zombies) aside, it's a story that all kids should see.

Speaking of story, ParaNorman's is this:  Norman is an 11-year old outcast who sees ghosts and is made fun of by everyone, even his sister.  He's misunderstood by his father who just wishes Norman could be more normal.  Norman's gift of seeing and conversing with the dead comes in handy because it's his turn to keep the town's witch at bay.  On the anniversary of her death a story must be read at the place where she was buried to keep her quiet until next year and to keep the puritanical zombies in their graves.  Unfortunately Norman isn't given all the pertinent information and the story doesn't get read in time. Norman, who knows that spirits stuck on earth have unfinished business, decides to get to the witch's real problem.  Why does she keep bugging them? Norman, his sister, his friend, Neil, Neil's brother, and school bully Alvin band together to rid the town of its zombie problem.   
Those puritanical zombies are the lesson here.  Norman's town of Blithe Hollow is repeating history until he steps up and tries to fix things.  Since the beginning of time people fear what they don't understand and often punish or bully a person for their differences.  That's a lesson enough right there but ParaNorman goes a step further and admonishes the bullied person for taking revenge on stupid people who don't know how to deal with their fears. Seeking revenge through violence is never the answer and this film does a great job discussing that.

There was plenty of humor and lots for the adults who usually escort kids to these things.  Not me, though.  I'm that creepy, old broad in the back corner of the theater with no kids anywhere near her.  Actually I went with my mom so we were two creepy, old broads in the theater without any kids.  One thing I got a kick out of was hearing what made the kids laugh and what made the adults laugh.  The scene that made me laugh out loud was the reaction the puritanical zombies had when seeing what the world is like now:

I was impressed not only with the story but with the film making involved in this stop-motion animated film.  I have little to no patience. I try to muster some for old people and little kids but beyond that I think things should be done (correctly) and quickly.  I would be the worst stop-motion animator ever.  I am truly amazed at what they do.  If you've seen Coraline then you know how absolutely beautiful it can be when it's done well.  And thanks to the good folks at Laika (who gave us Coraline and ParaNorman) we get to experience some truly amazing artistry on screen.
Pictured above is Laika president and animator, Travis Knight.  And in his hands is a wee Norman figure.  Travis was Comic-Con and I found myself wanting to get to know him, uh, a bit better.  He's funny and tall and incredibly talented at what he does.  Also, it turns out his dad is Phil Knight of Nike fame.  Not that that's an important piece of information but it does explain why Nike was doing a ParaNorman shoe tie-in.  I've totally lost where I was going with this paragraph.  Well I will say that I am massively impressed by Laika's films to date and can't wait to see what they come up with next.  But with how long each film must take I guess it'll be a few years.

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