Focus Features and Laika were probably banking on the supposition that their movie campaign, “From the makers of Coraline” would attract legions of die hard fans…but I personally don’t know anybody who liked it and surely no kid knows the difference between stop motion and CGI. After Coraline fell short due to the confused demographics it catered to (given the dark horror genre it flirts with) ParaNorman reflects the same derangement by tritely reducing it to a boy hero with a sixth sense and a lame moral message – leaving adults duly unimpressed. That being me. My Dad always reminded me that kids cannot save the world, but back then we had The Mutant Ninja Turtles so it didn’t matter. It’s one thing to be belittled everyday in the office by corporate stiffs but it’s another to be told what to do by fucking Norman, an 11 year old puppet..
ParaNorman is a story set in small town Blithe Hollow, Massachusetts that still commends and glorifies it’s witch hunt execution from some 300 years ago with a statue of a witch in the town square. Kind of just like Salem.
Anyway, Norman can see dead people from the town’s past milling about but nobody believes him, not his family and especially not the other kids at school, where of course he is made fun of for being weird by all except one – a chubby kid rejected because he’s fucking fat? whom Norman befriends. But I soon felt a bit uncomfortable for the kids sitting next to me as Norman was constantly reminded that his Grandma was “dead, dead, DEAD, dead, DEAD.” While it’s not uncommon for death in kids movies – Bambi’s mom, Simba’s dad, Large Marge…I just can’t feature that sort of lack of subtly. But at least it’s better than this.
Sorry. Back to the movie – so Norman discovers that the Witch that was sent to the gallows was really just an innocent little girl ostracized like himself, who wants to come back from the dead and take her revenge against Blithe Hollow and curse it to ruins and destroy the people, kill the kids, hang the judges, crucify the cops, filibust the politicians, take hostage the hospitals, condemn the rich, capsize the poor, jumpstart the Mayan clock, disconnect TimeWarner Cable, eat the fishes, shit in the square, and rotate the tires…but guess who saves the fucking town? Fucking Norman by reading some gobbledygook in front of some stupid graves. Hells Bells!
It’s unfortunate that given the monster trend in which the stop motion medium began, with the current monster revival, that the film’s direction would turn so awry. (Harryhausen is prob turning over in his grave). I was especially disappointed to find out that after all of Chris Butler’s stop motion animation experience and 10 years dedication to this script – he and Laika had utilized as much CGI amidst the animation, thereby negating the purity of the medium which I truly love. I also found the overall setting in which this story takes place puzzling. Other than their cellphones it sure seemed like it was set in the 1980’s. Maybe it has to do with the fact that Laika is based in the sticks of Oregon, where not only do they still worship Steve Prefontaine but are also still stuck in an early 90’s time warp. Or maybe it’s just a case of arrested development? Personally I’d rather be cursed by a Were-Rabbit.