Here we go again, another Laika production and honestly, I don’t think they’ve made a film that wasn’t awesome. Each film is unique in its own way while thriving in character development. ParaNorman has many similarities with both Coraline and Kubo and the Two Strings (Kubo for short).
ParaNorman is about an 11 year old boy named Norman Babcock who can see and talk to spirits and ghosts from the afterlife. Norman is misunderstood because he’s the only one who can see these people and is ridiculed by his family, teachers and classmates.
Then one day Norman interacts with a creepy old man who has the same power as him, warning Norman of a centuries old witch curse. Norman is the only one who can prevent the witch from attacking the townspeople, so he must take on ghosts, zombies, and even his own family in order to protect them from the trouble they’re keenly unaware of.
Unlike Coraline and Kubo, ParaNorman focused heavily on comedy. Many of the jokes were tailored towards adults, which surprised me. Norman’s friend Neil reminded me of Ham from The Sandlot. The funny little chubby red-head friend inserting jokes and witty banter in between Norman’s interactions.
The visuals like in any Laika production, were top-notch. The type of visuals where you’re almost bewildered to see it appearing on the screen. Understanding its a stop-motion animation film, the work and effort to create each scene is processed during the fact, making it that much more special.
The characters were voiced by a popular cast including Jeff Garlin (Perry Babcock Norman’s dad), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Alvin), and Anna Kendrick (Courtney Babcock Norman’s sister). With the talent of the voice actors, the performance matched the expectation.
The characters in the film are very likeable. Characters who have their own personalities working together in an unlikely pairing to save the town. What’s not to love? I connected exclusively with Norman for being a bit misunderstood at times and trying to find a middle ground to connect with people.
The older sister/brother aspect reminded me of what it was like when I was Norman’s age and how my brother treated me. I was able to connect more with Norman, while I imagine my brother would be able to connect more with Niel’s older brother Mitch in the aspect of older sibling relationships.
The soundtrack is particularly well-executed because the music applied fits perfectly with each inclusion. Whether its building suspense, a light-hearted interaction between characters, or a frantic escape from zombies, the music is a superb match.
Similar to Coraline the films genres focuses on Adventure, Fantasy and Horror. It’s less creepy than Coraline and its humor makes up for the themes that are suggested with the heavily discussed topic of death. ParaNorman has a similar vibe to the film Monster House.
This film was a joy to watch from beginning to end. It was adventurous allowing the viewers to open their imagination to the world Norman lives in. There were learning points that made me stop and think during the action of how we as people act towards one another. It leaves us with a positive impact detailing that people with different perspectives can connect on a meaningful level despite our differences.
On my list to watch next from Laika includes The Boxtrolls and Corpse and the Bride. I also look forward to watching other stop-motion animation films like Frankenweenie, Mary and Max, and The Book of Life.
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