With Oscar season in full swing everybody is trying to catch up to as many of the nominated movies as possible. While there are a lot of heavy hitters like Django, Lincoln or Zero Dark Thirty competing for the title this year, in the ‘featherweight’ category of Best Animated feature the competition is just as wild. On the one hand we have another one of Tim Burton’s gothic-y animations much in the same vein as Nightmare and Corpse Bride, on the other hand we have lovable outcast tales like Brave or Wreck-It Ralph that touch to themes very dear to our current day and age. Then there’s Paranorman.
Paranorman is a tough movie to single out. It hit cinemas earlier in the year so there is a good chance that you can watch it on demand via your cable provider’s on-line straming options (included with most cable deals like Time Warner Triple Play.) But it is a great movie nonetheless, one that you should see above all the others. On the one hand it’s a story about a boy who can speak to ghosts and who gets singled out, both by bullies but also by the local crackpot who claims that Norman is the only one who can save his hometown from impending doom. On the other hand it is a finely crafted piece of cinema that shows a level of thematic care uncommon in modern movies and manages to pull off a pastiche without turning it into a mockery.
One of the best things about the movie is how deliciously small in scale it is, amongst massive productions like Wreck-It Ralph. It’s almost like the claymation picture was put out for adults rather than kids (unsurprisingly it holds a PG rather than a G rating in the US). The storyline is well developed and has plenty of interesting twists, the Claymation cast is spectacularly well put together (no pun intended) and even supporting characters are developed during the course of the movie. The studio behind the movie is Laika, best known for the adaptation of Neil Gaiman’sCoraline, another children’s book with a dark heart but superb characterization that earned them another Oscar nod.
All in all, Paranorman is a great movie, flawlessly executed in both script and cinematography and with enough challenging materials to entertain adults as well as plenty of bully and zombie gags to keep children laughing. Here’s one that nobody should miss and that the Academy should probably reward.