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Left to right: Courtney, Norman, Alvin, Neil and Mitch

ParaNorman (2012)

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Set in the little American village of Blithe Hollow, resides a young boy named Norman. Norman (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee) is not like other children, he can talk to ghosts, which is evident in the first minutes as he’s talking to his dead grandmother.

With the motto of ‘A Great Place To Hang’ Blithe Hollow seemingly likes to celebrate it’s witch hunting history. It becomes apparent that Norman is a bit of a social outcast, as he is seen talking to the ghosts as he walks to school, but as soon as he comes into contact with some adults, he is immediately shying away from them.

This is no different at school, Norman has ‘Freak’ scrawled on his locker and is pushed over before school. Alvin (voiced by Christopher Mintz-Plasses) shows up and makes it apparent he is the bully of the school, of course, Alvin is a stereotypical bully who is really dumb, to the extent where he can’t spell his own name. Neil (Tucker Albrizzi) who was across the hall scrubbing ‘Fatty’ off his locker, rushes up to Norman after school and when told that Norman likes to be alone he replies

“I like to be alone too.. Lets do it together!”

clearly not grasping Norman’s hints. After this, the two children are interrupted by the man, who is rather creepy, that was seen earlier looking at pictures of Norman, when he says he can talk to ghosts, like Norman, and that he needs to pass on his message before it’s too late. Mr. Prenderghast (voiced by John Goodman), ends up dying (wouldn’t you know it) and is left with the option of haunting Norman to  get his message across. Norman feeling uneasy about the situation, is comforted by his grandmother’s ghost which causes him to be proactive and to try and stop the Witches curse.

When reading at the graves, Alvin stops Norman is the process, after being interrupted during his dancing (which is rather hilarious) which causes the seven cursed zombies to rise from their graves. After finding out Norman has disappeared, Courtney (Anna Kendrick) goes to Neil’s house to look for him and encounters Mitch (Casey Affleck) and becomes all weak at the knees for Mitch, and end up looking for him. They find Norman and Alvin running away, but they also see one of the zombies, this spooks everyone and they speed off, leading the zombies to Blithe Hollow after them.

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The children try to find out the Witches burial place so they can stop the curse, but Norman has a flashback to the trial of the Agatha Prenderghast where he learns that Agatha (the witch) was just a little girl. Norman then confronts the zombies and learns that the zombies mean no harm, just simply want to be sent back to the grave and want the suffering to stop.

After receiving help from the Judge Hopkins zombie, Norman goes to the site of the witches grave, where Agatha is. Norman eventually wears down Agatha in her witch form and manages to talk to her as a little girl and learns that she just simply wanted to cause suffering to those who caused her so much suffering. She is coaxed into stopping her attacks on Blithe Hollow and she eventually leaves in peace, the same with the zombies.

One of my favourite comedy moments in the films is the guy by the vending machine, as he waits for his snacks he starts screaming and wondering whether to run or wait for his snacks, this coupled with just simple comedy effects, such as Alvin’s mannerisms and Neil’s lines. But not only this, but the tiny references plotted about, such as Neil wearing a hockey mask waiting for Norman.

It’s a change of pace for the usual children’s comedies, but it’s not too confusing as the story is quite apt for the run time, for me, it didn’t seem to drag on at any point. This film has an interesting change from the usual zombie films, as the zombies help rather than hinder the plans of Norman. A very easy watch for the older generations, but also a fun watch for all ages.

4/5

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Author: Nathan Harris

Currently studying Film & Television studies and Media Writing at Derby University. Hopefully wanting to become a film critic/journalist.

3 thoughts on “ParaNorman (2012)

  1. Only got to see this film recently and it really was a lot better than my expectation of it. Much better than Laika’s first effort of Coraline.

    • I’ve not seen Coraline, but to me, everything seemed to work. The casting of the characters, to the storyline, and considering it a childrens film still works.

      • I bought Coraline and ParaNorman together since they were made by the same company. Watch Coraline, it’s not as good as ParaNorman but’s it still worth a watch. ParaNorman definitely did justice to the overdone zombie era were seem to live in at the moment. I agree with your comment 100%.

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