Movie review: Classic zombie genre down-played in 'ParaNorman'
From the makers of “Coraline,” “ParaNorman” is the newest in a line of stop-motion animated films. However, unlike its predecessors, it doesn’t feel thrown together in order to tide us over between Tim Burton films.
The visual style of the film delivers that unique flavor of “The Corpse Bride” or “Coraline” but updates it to more closely resemble live action horror films.
The film plays as a G-rated ode to the horror genre, often calling on site gags and puns to reference the drive-in gore fests of yesteryear.
That being said, the movie was not without problems, and it may prove to be too slow or too confusing for its younger target audience.
The film centers on the eccentric Norman (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee) who is misunderstood by his family and bullied by his peers because he can talk to ghosts. Before long, this uncanny ability pulls him and his rag-tag group of acquaintances into a plot to stop a dead witch.
One of the strengths of the film was the voice acting with Jeff Garlin and Leslie Mann as the bumbling parents and Tucker Albrizzi as the lovable Neil. Especially fun were the unlikely sidekicks of Norman’s older sister (Anna Kendrick) and Neil’s older brother (Casey Affleck), who manage to get in some pretty progressive jokes toward the end. And no movie about bullying would be complete without the bully himself, Alvin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) who was so realistically portrayed that I’m fairly certain he attended my middle school.
Together, these characters get some great individual lines but little in the way of actual development.
From this, we get a few good laughs, a handful of zombies and a lesson on empathy and accountability. As Norman fights to do the right thing and convince the town to do the same, we get a sense of a more organic moral. Basically, the filmmaker assumes a certain maturity of the audience and takes an adult approach to the problem of bullying.
The funny interludes are overshadowed by the pacing problems, which could have made this film more endearing. It takes a long time to get from point A to point B, making it hard to get to know the characters. The plot is like a classic zombie film but without the shriek-inducing gore or the insanely close calls.
Having sat through more stringent films, chances are if I was bored, then the kids in the audience must have been at Department of Motor Vehicles level. It wouldn’t have surprised me at all if a child had yelled, “are we there yet?”
However, if you have a few hours to kill — no pun intended — and you want to see a kid’s flick this one might be worth a watch.
Diana LeCrone is a philosophy junior.