When I first saw the trailer for ParaNorman (Butler and Fell, 2012) last year I had a hard time believing that the film was a stop-motion-animation. Over time I did realize the film had a stop-motion-animation look to it. This is not a bad thing, for the film is a very lush looking stop-motion-animation film. This lushness in the look and animation is the best thing going for this film.
The film is about Norman, who has the gift of seeing dead people. This gift separates Norman from every one else. His family does not get him and he is labeled a freak at school. This is because Norman tells his family he was talking to Grandma, who died last year, or; as Norman goes to school he talks to the dead. In one moment on Norman’s way to school he looks as if he is talking to a run over cat on the road. The town’s folk look at Norman as if he is just crazy or really weird, it is these happens that contribute to the label of freak at school.
Since Norman is labeled as a freak he has no friends. It could also be assumed Norman thinks he himself is a freak too. Even when another kid who gets picked on, wants to be friends, Norman does not want to be friends because he knows he himself is weird. This gift as Norman will soon come to realize is the only way to save the town.
There is a curse on the town by a witch from around the time of the Salem Witch trials. The curse is sedated by reading a book at the witch’s grave. If the reading of the book does not happen the witch will raise the dead. Norman’s uncle was the one who kept the curse at bay, who also has the gift too; but the uncle dies and now it is Norman’s job.
The theme of the film is about accepting those who are different and bullying those who are different is not the answer or approach one should take. This is a great and admirable theme to put in one’s film but in this film is comes off as to heavy-handed. This could have been better balance with a more adventurous script. There are a lot of scenes with dialogue and scenes that set things up, but the adventure never really begins. The adventure that does happen is short and goes more for cheap laughs.
The finale of the film is pretty decent, but when the film was over it seemed to come a little quick. With all the heavy-handedness in the film I never really felt entertained. This is a great looking film with some interesting characters, which ramps up to go somewhere but is never fully realized. I would wait to see this one in the cheap theaters or wait until it comes out on DVD.