Laika, the stop-motion animation studio known for 2009’s Coraline, bring us their second feature film, ParaNorman. This animated zombie-infested flick lends itself more to a mature audience but it’s still, in most ways, relatable to a younger demographic.
ParaNorman focuses on a misunderstood boy, Norman Babcock, who can talk to ghosts. His family and local community dismiss his admissions, branding him a weirdo. However, he’s warned of a curse that threatens his small town and he must use his abilities to protect the society that turned against him.
As with Coraline, Laika excels in the animation department. From character image and movement, to ghostly encounters and finely detailed sets, the whole look is incredibly beautiful. Also working in ParaNorman’s favour is the straightforwardness of the charming narrative, which brings to the forefront a positive message about acceptance.
The script comes close to challenging the intelligence of its young audience at times but there’s more than enough child-friendly content to admire, mainly the budding relationship between Norman (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and fellow student Neil (Tucker Albrizzi). Both are voiced by winning young voice talent, with Albrizzi bringing most of the laughs. Also having fun with their animated incarnations are Anna Kendrick, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and an ace Casey Affleck.
Visually stunning and delicately told, with the right amount of humour, brains and sentiment to match, ParaNorman ticks nearly all the boxes.
Ben has awarded ParaNorman four Torches of Truth.