Coming to Theatres August 17, 2012


Paranorman Rolling Stone
Peter Travers
"There’s magic in ParaNorman!"

ParaNorman is a miracle in stop-motion 3D from the wizards at LAIKA (Coraline). Part ghost story and part teen-misfit manifesto, the movie puts the focus on Norman (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee), a weird kid who, well, sees dead people, including grouchy Granny (Elaine Stritch). What stars as a harmless spin through Sixth Sense territory escalates into a full-out zombie war, led by a 300-year-old witch (Jodelle Ferland). Brit screenwriter Chris Butler and his co-director, Sam Fell, lace the fun and freight with keen visual wit. My advice? Just go with ParaNorman. There’s magic in it.

ParaNorman The New York Times
Manohla Dargis
"Charmingly heartfelt. Beautiful-looking. An occasion for discovery."

Critick’s Pick. ’ParaNorman,’ a beautiful-looking, charmingly heartfelt 3-D stop-motion animation about a boy and his ghouls, comes with an assortment of hair-raising frights. Norman, a sprout whose black hair stands at attention as if he were in a state of perpetual alarm (he is voiced with vivid emotion by Kodi Smit-McPhee), can’t help but be a little creepy. After all, he doesn’t just see dead people, he also hangs out with them, sometimes while watching creature-features on the family TV. And why not, especially given that the old lady busily knitting on the sofa in a lovely pool of bilious green is Norman’s grandmother and voiced by the incomparable Elaine Stritch? Norman himself is an appealing figure, from bristled hair to sneakered toe, partly because he hasn’t been saddled with the familiar Disneyesque pluck and good cheer. He’s also an unreconstructed little weirdo, with pleasurably odd tics and a night light shaped like a monster head and topped with a pink brain. The story, an amusing involving a witch and some Puritans, is principally a vehicle for the movie’s meticulously detailed pictorial beauty, which turns each scene into an occasion for discovery and delight. Far more than Norman’s adventure, which takes him from home to a cemetery and deep into his town’s history, what pulls you in, quickening your pulse and widening your eyes, are the myriad visual enchantments — from the rich, nubby tactility of his clothes to the skull-and-bones adorning his bedroom wallpaper. When Norman pauses while brushing his teeth to make a scary face in the mirror, the foamy toothpaste dripping like zombie drool, you may find yourself tapping into your own inner monster and goofily grinning right back.

ParaNorman IGN
Jim Vejvoda
"One of the best pictures of the year, animated or not! Check it out! A handcrafted beauty. Heartfelt and humorous."
From LAIKA, the makers of Coraline, comes the charming ParaNorman, a 3D stop-motion animated film directed by Sam Fell and Chris Butler. The story follows young Norman (voiced by Let Me In’s Kodi Smit-McPhee), a horror movie fan who also just so happens to be able to see and speak to the dead of his home town Blithe Hollow, the site of a famous witch hunt 300 years before. Equal portions sweet and sad, ParaNorman is a funny yet ultimately poignant story about anger and the threat posed by mob mentality. This is a movie that never belittles its viewers’ intelligence; it trusts them to understand their amusing nods to horror conventions and also to stay with them when things venture into more somber territory. With its autumnal color palette and crisp cinematography, ParaNorman is one of the year's best-looking movies. Even the film's 3D is put to good use, and is employed more for atmospheric effect than for the ‘boo!’ factor. This film is a handcrafted beauty with a heartfelt and humorous story. You care about these characters and, as fantastical as their world gets, it’s always human and relatable. The voice cast – which also includes Casey Affleck, Bernard Hill, Jodelle Ferland and Tempsett Bledsoe – are all solid, especially Smit-McPhee as the title character; whose scenes with Ferland are especially heart-tugging. Bottom line, ParaNorman is one of the best films of the year, animated or not. Check it out.
ParaNorman Arizona Republic
Bill Goodykoontz
Paranorman 4 stars

What's so enjoyable about the movie is how it doesn't skimp on the scary-movie details. It's all classic-horror stuff -- the outcast having to protect the town and his tormentors, relying on the help of his sister, his sort-of pal Neil, Neil's older brother Mitch (Casey Affleck) and bully Alvin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), along with his parents. But "ParaNorman" goes deeper than that. The resolution involves issues of trust, betrayal, love and forgiveness. Truly, this is one animated film that would work just as well as a live-action movie.

Which is to say it's a nice balance between the funny, the silly, the scary and the moving. The look of the film is great -- it's a beautiful homage to every zombie movie you've ever seen. The filmmakers give Blithe Hollow, with its witch-themed stores, billboards and hot-dog stands, a unique feel. It's always getting dark or dark already there, seems like -- just like in any horror movie worth its salt. "ParaNorman" is worth that and a lot more.

ParaNorman Playlist
Drew Taylor
"Grade: A! A Masterpiece! One of the best movies of the year! Emotionally resonant and deeply satisfying. Gorgeous, 3D glasses should be a requirement: the effect is essential."
Grade: A! Along comes a movie proudly told in an old school animation style that blows away all the slick studio confections both in terms of sheer visual wonder and emotional heft. Laika's stop-motion wonder ‘ParaNorman’ isn't just the best animated movie of the summer, it's one of the best movies of the year. Period. ’ParaNorman’ takes its time building atmosphere and a palpable sense of dread – the movie is gorgeous to look at, but never distractingly so. As the horror escalates, more characters join the fray, including Neil's older brother Mitch (Casey Affleck) and Norman's sister Courtney (Anna Kendrick), giving the movie a rollicking "Goonies"/"Monster Squad" feel, and while things get crazier and more otherworldly, the emotional content deepens, too. "ParaNorman" was directed by Aardman veteran Sam Fell and storyboard artist Chris Butler (Butler also wrote the screenplay), and it's a remarkably assured and confident film. Even the 3D utilized for "ParaNorman" seems like a cut above. The technology has always served stop-motion animation well, emphasizing the tactile nature of the animation through truly spectacular dimensionality. That's also the case with "ParaNorman" – "Fantastic Mr. Fox" vet Nelson Lowry's eye-popping production design and Oliver's cinematography seem that much more impressive through the wondrous 3D effects, a perfect blending of ancient animation techniques with cutting-edge technology. In most cases 3D seems worse than superfluous; it's downright detrimental. With "ParaNorman," 3D glasses should be a requirement; the effect is essential. It's the combination of the film's visual prowess and the genuine emotional content that makes "ParaNorman" such a singularly powerful experience. It would be one thing to just watch the movie, alight at all that you're seeing. But there's something deep and truthful that elevates it to another plateau. You'll wipe away tears while you're screaming for more. It's not only the best and brightest surprise of this long and dreary summer, but it's easily one of the best movies of the year, a complex and multifaceted blast. "ParaNorman" is a micro-sized masterpiece that wears its heart (and its half-eaten brains) on its sleeve.
ParaNorman Time Out New York
Keith Uhlich
Paranorman 4 stars
"A visual marvel!"

4 stars! The second 3-D stop-motion feature produced by LAIKA Studios, which was also behind Henry Selick’s Coraline, is a visual marvel, from the littlest details, like Norman’s Calvin and Hobbes–esque coif, to rip-roaring set pieces such as our hero’s climactic, which-way-is-up confrontation with the tragic enchantress. Yet the arresting, sometimes-graphic sturm und drang rarely overshadows the story’s pronounced sense of melancholy. Despite being made of sticks and clay, Norman’s pain is all too human: Anyone who’s ever walked to school dreading what lies in wait will recognize the Atlas-sized burden that weighs on his shoulders and makes him immediately suspect of any seeming act of kindness. But sensitive parents shouldn’t fret; this is the kind of fairy tale, equal parts midnight-movie macabre and family-round-the-hearth compassionate, that scars in all the right ways.

Drew McWeeny
"Absolutely spectacular! Beautifully designed. A tremendous, heartfelt and personal movie. One of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had theatrically this season."
Laika Studio's gorgeous new stop-motion movie, "ParaNorman" has enough genuine scares and thoughtful material about life and death that I would have a hard time mounting an argument that it was aimed at children in any way. A big part of what I liked about the film is the absolutely spectacular stop-motion work. "ParaNorman" is beautifully designed on a character level, and directors Chris Butler and Sam Fell have studied horror films well, creating something here that works both as loving homage and straightforward film craft. The score by Jon Brion isn't the typical horror score, and in choice after choice, the film takes expectations and subverts them. I love that in a summer where some of the biggest and most hyped films have disappointed, a small under-the-radar charmer like "ParaNorman" has the ability to surprise completely. Take the chance. This is a tremendous, heartfelt, even personal movie, and one of the most overall rewarding experiences I've had theatrically this season.
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