Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

August 24, 2012

‘ParaNorman’ rises beyond expectations

Movie Review

Ezra Mann
Pauls Valley Daily Democrat

Pauls Valley, Oklahoma — As a fan who never has outgrown the animated storytelling format, there are plenty of offerings in any given year I make a point to visit a nearby theater to see. However, every now and again I’m reminded of one or more truly outstanding submissions that carry extra meaning for me as a movie-goer.

This particular premise was so relatable to my own childhood I was almost tempted to call mom and dad to see where they hid the rights to my life story money, though I must admit my own experiences included a lack of cursed undead guys sending my hometown into pandemonium. However, what was expected to be just a fun romp through a society outcast’s misfortunes instead turned out to look like something which could even give “Brave” a scare come awards season. “ParaNorman” is not only festering with good humor, but it is a deeply heartfelt story created to also challenge society to acknowledge and overcome its faults.

The story begins in a rather Salem-like New England town called Blithe Hollow and introduces us to an unusual boy named Norman Babcock (Kodi Smit-McPhee). Seen more of a point to mock than what is actually a talent, he has the ability to speak with those who have already passed from the living world.

It seems every one in town from Norman’s dad Perry (Jeff Garlin) and his sister Courtney (Anna Kendrick) to local bully’s like Alvin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) set the norm for how he’ll always be treated until he comes across his crazed uncle Mr. Prenderghast (John Goodman), who sees his gift as something that will instead be the town’s saving grace. Along with his only friend, the equally picked on Neil Downe (Tucker Albrizzi), they are soon allied with former tormentors in race to undo a centuries old witch’s curse. The following only gets more enjoyable and at times rather dark, complete with misunderstood zombies and an angry mob.

Like any film there are characters thrown in simply fill in plot points, but the tale is so well scripted that any flaws are nearly invisible. Without spoiling too much, the most surprising twist comes from the story behind the curse and one that wraps this up as a winning package.

I not only recommend this flick for the whole family, it is guaranteed to be watched again and likely an addition to my personal collection. It has certainly earned it’s place among other clean supernatural classics like “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Beetlejuice.” In the end, my final verdict for “ParaNorman” is five out of five apparitions.

Movie viewing experience courtesy of the Royal Twin Theater of Pauls Valley.