PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Movie Guy

August 17, 2012

“ParaNorman” is silly and scary fun

— The new movie “ParaNorman” is a delightfully creepy family film that should particularly appeal to young boys. It has some fun humor, some icky scares and a superb visual style that is indicative of an animation crew that put a lot of heart and soul into making the movie. I expect this film to become one of those standard DVDs that parents pull out every Halloween whenever they throw a mildly-spooky sleepover for their kids.

Using stop-motion animation, “ParaNorman” tells the story of a young boy, Norman (Kodi Smit-McPhee) who is living in the town of Blithe Hollow—a town that has been cursed by a witch some 300 years ago. Norman has the ability to see and speak to ghosts, which makes him the only one who understands that his town is in grave danger. That would be “grave,” as in, zombies are rising from their graves and gathering to attack the town. It’s up to Norman and a few others to save Blithe Hollow from utter destruction.

That’s actually a pretty good plot for a horror film, one that might cause legitimate scares if the zombies weren’t animated and kind of silly-looking. Parents should be warned that younger kids might have some issues with the scary stuff, but I think that the filmmakers have found the sweet spot for the middle school set with a story that will get the kids anxious but not traumatized.

In that respect, “ParaNorman” looks and reminds me of “Coraline,” another animated film that was a nice mix of scary fun and visual flourish. The animators here let their imaginations run amok, turning the zombies and the other ghoulies into truly memorable images. For that reason alone, it’s worth seeing the film in 3D, although I suspect that “ParaNorman” is destined to be a DVD favorite rather than a theatrical hit.

That’s a shame because “ParaNorman” is a surprise gem of a movie, inexplicably buried at the tail end of the summer movie season. I will admit that this isn’t one of those Pixar films that are equally appealing to both kids and grownups, but parents will appreciate that their kids are getting a scary and funny film with some nice messages about the consequences of bullying and intolerance for people who are different. Horror fans will appreciate that there are some subtle homages to other horror films buried within this film, and general movie fans will love that “ParaNorman” is a heartfelt and lovingly crafted family flick that turns out to be one of my favorite films of the summer.

Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are published bi-weekly in “The Port Arthur News” and seen weekly on KFDM-TV and KBOI 2-TV. Sean welcomes your comments via email at smcbride@kboi2.com.

1
Text Only
Movie Guy
  • Les Miz.jpg Beloved Broadway musical shines on big screen

    “Les Misérables”
    Universal Pictures
    Directed by Tom Hooper.
    Starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Barks, Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter
    Rated PG-13
    3 1/2 Stars

    December 21, 2012 1 Photo

  • Dredd 3D copy.jpg Second time’s the charm for Judge Dredd

    “Dredd 3D”
    Lionsgate Films
    Directed by Pete Travis
    Starring Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey, Wood Harris and Domhnall Gleeson
    Rated R
    3 Stars

    September 26, 2012 1 Photo

  • End of Watch.jpg ‘End of Watch’ a macho love letter to LAPD

    “End of Watch”
    Open Road Films
    Directed by David Ayer
    Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Peña, Anna Kendrick, America Ferrara, Cody Horn and David Harbour.
    Rated R
    3 Stars

    September 21, 2012 1 Photo

  • Res Evil copy.jpg New Resident Evil stale repetition

    September 19, 2012 1 Photo

  • Cold Light copy.jpg Shouldn’t have seen ‘Light of day’

    “The Cold Light of Day”
    Summit Entertainment
    Directed by Mabrouk El Mechri
    Starring Henry Cavill, Bruce Willis, Sigourney Weaver and Roschdy Zem
    Rated PG-13
    1 Star  

    September 14, 2012 1 Photo

  • Hit and Run copy.jpg “Hit and Run” is hit and miss

    “Hit and Run”
    Open Road Pictures
    Directed by Dax Shepard and David Palmer
    Starring Dax Shepard, Kristen Bell, Bradley Cooper, Tom Arnold, Kristin Chenoweth and Beau Bridges
    Rated R

    2 Stars

    August 24, 2012 1 Photo

  • ParaNorman.jpg “ParaNorman” is silly and scary fun

    “ParaNorman”
    Focus Features
    Directed by Chris Butler and Sam Fell
    Starring Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tucker Albrizzi, John Goodman, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck and Christopher Mintz-Plasse
    Rated PG
    3 1/2 Stars

    August 17, 2012 1 Photo

  • BourneLegacy.jpg New “Bourne” doesn’t live up to his legacy

    “The Bourne Legacy”
    Universal Pictures
    Directed by Tony Gilroy
    Starring Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Scott Glenn, Stacy Keach and Donna Murphy
    Rated PG-13
    2 ½ Stars

    August 13, 2012 1 Photo

  • Total Recall.jpg ‘Recall’ remake not as memorable as original 

    “Total Recall”
    Columbia Pictures
    Directed by Len Wiseman
    Starring Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, Bokeem Woodbine, Bill Nighy and John Cho
    Rated PG-13
    2 Stars

    August 3, 2012 1 Photo

  • IceAge.jpg ‘Ice Age’ floats on towards mediocrity

    “Ice Age: Continental Drift”
    Fox Animation
    Directed by Steve Martino
    Starring Ray Romano, Denis Leary, Seann William Scott, Jennifer Lopez, John Leguizamo, Queen Latifah, Wanda Sykes, Peter Dinklage, Chris Wedge and Keke Palmer
    Rated PG
    2 Stars

    July 13, 2012 1 Photo

Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
Facebook
Sports Tweets
Photos