Movie Review: “ParaNorman”- Weird, Wacky, and Wonderful

Written by Ethan Butler August 28, 2012

“ParaNorman”, the latest stop motion animation film from the geniuses at Laika is truly a marvel to behold. A film filled with visuals as beautiful as the message it holds. The message that I took from this wonderful animated tale was that it is ok to be different, it is ok to be scared, as long as you don’t let it change who you are. This is also how the film comes across, not afraid to be different and unique. It is really a wonderful film that can be enjoyed by people of any age.

The movie tells the tale of a misunderstood young boy named Norman, who must use his incredible gift of talking to the dead to rid his town of a centuries old curse. This story takes the viewer into some dark places, but they are balanced well with some excellent comedic moments. It walks a fine line between horror, and comedy to expertly produce an engaging tale of unexpected bravery and heroism. Directors Chris Butler, and Sam Fell have crafted a film filled with great beauty and heart, that it should be a lock for a Best Animated Feature nomination come Oscar time.

Great Cast of Characters

One of the reasons (and there are many) that “ParaNorman” is such an enjoyable film is because of the characters who inhabit the world of Blithe Hollow. The characters are very relatable and each have something that one could connect with. Norman (Kodi Smit-McPhee), Neil (Tucker Albrizzi), Mitch (Casey Affleck), Courtney (Anna Kendrick), and Alvin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) all play off each other wonderfully, and they are the source of some truly great laughs. Norman is a really sympathetic character, and as a lead he is inspiring. The town is filled out with a wide variety of kooky characters, who surprisingly provide one of the funniest moments in the film (hint: it involves a vending machine).

Finding the Balance

ParaNorman is a unique film as it expertly balances humour, heart, and horror creating a film experience for all ages. This balance is hard to come by as many films that attempt to combine the elements of such different genres don’t often fare well, but “ParaNorman” really does as it uses elements of different genres to deliver the message that it carries. It utilizes the advantages of this style of animation by delivering some fantastic physical humour, along with some incredibly haunting imagery that evoke a strong emotional response.


The film’s message is stated outright that it’s ok to be scared, as long as it doesn’t change who you are. This sticks with you long after the credits have finished rolling. As this message is explored in the film, we are shown an example of people commiting a horrendous act out of fear- fear of the unknown. “ParaNorman” delivers its message through showing people corrupted by fear in relation to showing Norman not letting fear change him, and this is one of the places where the film’s magic stems from.

A Meticulously Crafted Film

Making a film in this style of animation is no small feat, as it requires hours upon hours of meticulous handwork, and all of the filmmakers’ and animators’ hard work is greatly appreciated in this delightful gem from the makers of “Coraline”. “ParaNorman” is a marvel to view, and is populated by a fantastic cast of characters, beautiful visuals, and a strong message. Laika has given the movie going public another extraordinary gift.

My Rating: 8.5/10




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