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Feature FilmStop MotionTalkback

“ParaNorman” talkback

From coast to coast, the reviews are coming in and its looking good! Betsy Sharkey in The Los Angeles Times says ParaNorman is “the most fun you’ll have with ghosts and zombies all year”. Manolha Dargis in The New York Times admires “the movie’s meticulously detailed pictorial beauty, which turns each scene into an occasion for discovery and sometimes delight.”

ParaNorman opens today and its a great little film. I highly recommend you check it out – and report to us right here with your opinion in the comments below. Only those who have actually seen the film will be allowed to post below.

Attention those in Southern California: Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra California is hosting a ParaNorman event this Sunday with character and armature designers Vera Brosgol, Jeremy Spake, Heidi Smith, and Alan Cook all flying down for the event. Story boards, models, and lots of designs will be on display. There will also be free posters to the those who attend (while supplies last) and the admission is free! Here is the link.

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  • davidbfain

    Saw it at the ASIFA screening last night and was very impressed. If you thought the detail Aardman put into “Pirates” was something this blows it away! The Stop-Motion animation is so artful at times I had to remind myself I wasn’t watching a live action movie. Really good use of interesting camera angles and moving camera shots. All in all, one of the best Stop-Motion features I have ever seen.

  • Sam

    I thought this was an absolutely fantastic film, and easily the best animated film of the year. Sharp, fresh, and vivid stop-motion animation was just the icing on the cake of a wonderfully human and perfectly observed story. It was equal parts hilarious and harrowing. This is my pick for the Oscars this year, even though we still have quite a few months left to go!

  • Mewzilla

    I really enjoyed the movie so much, I would definitely see it again!I went to see it 3D because I think that Stop motion films look great with the effect better than CG but, I would rather see PAranorman in simple 2D to get a really good loock at all the textures and details the movie has.
    It has a really round story line that makes it enjoyable and the characters have strong personalities.
    The stop motion effects are mind blowing! A really Great advance for the medium.
    Congratulations for the Laika team! Im hoping to see more from them soon.

    • Sarah J

      I saw the movie in 2D, but I wish I could’ve seen in it 3D (I didn’t want to pay an extra three dollars) because it had a lot of scenes that I bet would’ve looked good in 3D.

      • Taylor

        “Wish” you could have seen it in 3D? DIdn’t want to pay the extra three dollars? Three dollars….half the cost of any snack at a theater….I tend to wish for things that exceed my reach by more than three dollars. Just my two cents.

      • Mike

        I took this more to mean that she saw the movie in 2D to save money but when she saw the scenes she wished she’d shelled out for 3D. I thought it was a useful comment because I’ve been on the fence about which one to see.

  • Chelsea

    I absolutely adored the film. The story was concise, the characters were all well-defined and delightful, and of course the design and animation was beautiful. In my opinion this is the most aesthetically creative animated film that will come out this year, and I watched Merida’s hair bounce around on screen twice. Sure sure, that was all very nice but there is such a special place for well-done stop-motion… it is satisfying in many ways that computer animation simply cannot, at least to me. (I’m not trying to knock beautiful computer animation down, I love it too.) Perhaps it is just that stop-motion animation is so much more rare these days that it is more precious to me.

    In any case, I am pretty sure this will turn out to be my favorite animated film of the year- even with how excited I am for some of the forthcoming 2012 features. I’ve been looking forward to Paranorman for a while- I haven’t been excited by an animated film trailer as much as Paranorman excited me for a LONG time- and the movie DEFINITELY delivered on the promises I saw in that first glimpse over a year ago.

    To anyone who worked on Paranorman reading this comment- THANK YOU SO MUCH for all of the hard work, the long hours and dedication I can only imagine this took… thank you so much. I love this film so much, and look forward to wherever/ whatever Laika wants to take me next.

    This movie has reminded me why I’m working so hard to get into animation school. Thank you again.

    • thank you chelsea for such beautiful words. that really means a lot. :)

  • It has been two times already, two outstanding and mind blowing times that I have seen it, thanks to the overseas screening we watch this animation masterpiece two week ago here in México.
    The movie is simple perfect, round perfect, like a circle, beautiful characters, props and sets design, the detail level is beyond perfection.
    The characters have a place for their own, and each of them play a important part in the movie. The story is simple and powerful no need for complicated twists or stuff like that, it entertains from the first frames to the last, adding the beautiful animation work I had to rubbed my eyes and pinched my self just to remember it was stop-motion what I was watching, awesome camera work and the effects too.

    it is simple the best movie, no just an animated movie, I have seen in the whole year. don`t miss it.

  • Had a chance to see it with my wife last night. I think Chris Butler put it well: “John Carpenter meets John Hughes.” Very enjoyable film, and a lot of fun in 3D, too. I’m not a huge fan of 3D, but Laika did such a great job with “Coraline” that I really wanted to see what they did with this and they didn’t disappoint. Instead of shooting for subtle, they played up the gimmick very nicely (stuff coming out at you, the “Vertigo” effect, etc.)

    We saw the midnight screening, which really added to the feeling as well. An overall fun night out with the missus. Should definitely be a serious contender come awards season.

  • Laura

    This film was pretty great. Geared towards the older “kid” (I say this cuz it woulda scared the begeesus out of me if I was young)so I enjoyed it lots as an adult. It had some great writing, especially when addressing the awkwardness of youth. The ending was a little soft, but the overall quality and charm of this movie made up for it. I found the stop-mo effects amazing and it was definitely a movie worth seeing.

  • T M

    I saw Paranorman last week, with no expectations. Based upon all I saw about it, it looked pretty ho-hum.

    But it really surprised me. The animation is so well done, it’s hard to believe they are puppets. The set design, lighting, cinematography were all so well crafted, and the character designs were sharp and unique.

    There have been some complaints about the story, and while it does smell familiar, it is told well for the most part, and has far more laughs than Coraline did, which I wasn’t expecting.

    I think this may beat Brave at the Oscars. Well done, Laika!

  • Andrew Farago

    Loved it. I’ve got the same “these guys are going to be unstoppable now” feeling about LAIKA that I got with Pixar after I saw Monsters, Inc.

    • B. Rubble

      I get more of a Don Bluth vibe.


    Saw it last night, thought it was okay.

    It ultimately ended up being pretty much the standard coming of age ghost story that we’ve seen numerous times. The characters were very flat and it had a very slow first half. The climax is pretty incredible though! In fact I’d say that the climax is worth the price of admission alone.

  • Mohegan

    I’ve seen it a couple of hours ago and even though I figured out most of the story by watching the videos alone, I was still brought to tears by the ending. Wow, it’s more emotional gripping than Coraline. Without spoiling the Witch her identity, I felt more sorry for her than the ghost children in Coraline.

    I wished the movie was a little bit longer though, they could’ve thought out a few more dangerous/adventurous situations for Norman and the gang before they figured out how to stop the curse. Also, Jon Brion’s score is lovely, but I felt Coraline had a more memorable soundtrack.

    Aside from those two points of critique, it was amazing! Well done Laika and to everyone who worked on this movie! I really hope you will win the Oscar for Best Animated Movie next year!

  • MK

    Such a colossal let down. Boring….I fell asleep. I only wish they had put in another 30 minutes of dialogue….The worst pacing I’ve seen in years. Watch the film and it’s easy to spot what it could have been. Also it has no location character. No sense of a haunted old town in the northeast. No accents to lend color or place. Why not put it on the coast and let us feel like it’s not just some generic town? Read some Stephen King. Visit Salem Mass ( not just Salem Oregon) they are chocking on their lack of outside experience up there. Hate to disagree but the climax is an overly talky mess that basically comes down to, “I’ll talk to them.” ah… Yeah. And they pretty much make up exactly what Norman can or can’t do as they need to get them out of structural disasters with the narrative. I could go on, but why…

  • I just came back from this movie and while I thought the first half was somewhat choppy and uneven as far as the story goes, I thought the characters were amazingly true to life; perhaps too much so in that there was that very modern sense of jadedness to them. I haven’t decided if this was good or bad. Should characters not reflect the times in which they live? On the other hand, this is a story, a fantasy one at that. Shouldn’t the real world be kept somewhat at bay? I can see it either way.

    The art direction, character design and animation were astounding. This is SO far removed from the old Rankin Bass films (which are still very charming) that it breathes new life into the medium. There was a hell of a lot of love put into this film and it’s obvious from the fake opening credits to the 60s monster movie as well as the cinema, “Feature Presentation” title card which meant a lot to us older folks who actually remember those things without irony.

    I will say that the ending is far better thought out and solid than most of the rest of the story and, as has been noted above, is worth the rest of the choppy parts.

    MINOR SPOILER: I want to personally thank the makers of this movie for giving us the Mitch character. I totally didn’t see that coming and it was presented in such a calm, nothing special sort of way. I’m betting they catch some flack for that but for those of us who never see such characters, even in passing, it means a lot.

    • MIM

      I’m so glad someone else noticed Mitch’s “reveal!” I learned about it when I read the novelization. It’s was wonderfully done, no big deal made of it and completely accepted by the other characters Since this is a historic first in American feature animation I’m surprised no critic I’ve read has even hinted at it, with the exception of the San Francisco Chronicle. Bravo to “ParaNorman’s” creators!

      • Ronnie Lane

        Well, in my screening that was the biggest joke in the movvie and people didn’t want to spoil the punchline- you should have HEARD the laughter across the theater.

    • Sarah J

      Agreed about Mitch! I was surprised, but pleased, that they did it.

  • Gert

    It’s pretty good, not great. A few scenes really stand out though; the scene where we get to see Norman talking to the air/ghosts in town, loved that scene as well as the gorgeous climax.

    But the one-note stock characters were a bit disappointing. The animation was overall gorgeous except for the changing of facial expressions, some strobing here and there became distracting.

    But it seems like a lot of trouble might have been saved if the uncle just gave clear instructions in the first place.

    Plus I was extremely confused with the impression that the film was comparing the tragedies of the occult, with bullying. There’s a brief overlap, yes but there’s a difference between a tragic massacre that history should learn from, and being bullied at school… It seemed to suggest that since the occult aggressors were just scared and didn’t know better, that we should forgive them…? That it’s oddball kids who are to blame for their own exclusion and maltreatment for not thinking better of people and making a better effort to make friends? Very odd…

    But this was just a first impression, I’d very much like to see it again, maybe I’ll be able to clear up some confusion over themes and what not.

  • Watched Paranorman last night and wow! A well put together film. Beautiful sets, and characters, and great stop motion animation. The story was very entertaining and had a strong emotional core to the film. Interesting characters, and a decent plot, and a empathetic lead character that had a strong arc. I would watch this again!

    Hope this gets wait..this will get nominated.

  • Every so often an American animated feature comes along that feels like its pushing the medium ; stylistically, aesthetically, tonally, technologically. I got this feeling watching Iron Giant, Lilo & Stitch, The Incredibles and I’d put Paranorman amongst them. It’s reference points are new to animated features, it’s characters are unique and appealing. The animation extraordinarily Well observed and executed. It’s design and cinematography quirky and surprising I commend Laika on supporting Chris Butler’s vision and hope the success of ‘Norman leads to many more .

  • B. Rubble

    Liked it certainly did not love it. One dimensional characters, flat story, and bad lighting mired an otherwise potentially great film. I found the characters to be fairly boring and rather derivative with the exception of the zombie throng. The zombie models were pretty damn awesome.

    The music was great albeit a little sparse. It seemed like there were a lot of very flat segments of the movie(particularly in the first half) that would have been helped along nicely by a touch or two of that great music.

    Overall didn’t love it but would certainly recommend it to a fellow animation enthusiast. For all others, I’d say catch it on Blu-ray. And if you do go be sure to stay to the end. The post-credit segment was far and away the best part.

  • I love this film! I’ll be honest, I feel as if I was disconnected from the voice acting and the pacing was a little slow; however when the movie build up to a big scene it’s really gratifying! This movie has an unconventional plot and doesn’t fall to the cliches that most animated films fall under. It’s the first time this year where an animated film gave me a jumpscare, made me laugh hard and then cry. Something about the ending, and I won’t spoil just in case, really moved me and accentuated the message the film was trying to convey. Everybody has the potential of being bad, just as much as there is good in this world. A very thought provoking film as much as it was visually engaging.

    How about we hold off from the generic action popcorn flicks (i’m looking at you Expendables 2) and look forward to a movie with a good story, characters, aesthetic and message? Paranorman FTW!

  • Toonio

    It doesn’t have the stunning visuals of Coraline and the end of the second act comes across a little flat. However the whole world of Paranorman is amazing and all the characters are very well made.

    Kudos to Laika for creating a modern time classic like ye olde Rankin-Bass.

    And agreeing with a previous comment, Brave doesn’t a candle to Paranorman.

    • Chelsea

      “It doesn’t have the stunning visuals of Coraline”

      Opinion is one thing, but yours is such a statement… I feel a need to ask- where is your proof of this? What are you basing such a statement upon? What about Paranorman is not in the very least on par with Coraline?

      It seems many people here are debating about the characters and story, which is fair. But I don’t know what about the design or animation could possibly not be stunning in this film- objectively even if I disliked the look of stop-motion, this film has incredibly smooth animation for the medium and the color work is very striking, and the character designs are all very distinct- and other aspects of the entire film’s ‘visuals’ are similarly solid. I just… have no idea where your comment about the visuals could possibly be coming from.

      • Toonio

        Ok so tell me where in Paranorman you find the garden sequence in. the other world.

        Or the mouse circus sequence in the other world.

        Or the other father singing.

        Or the other world sisters act.

        Or the final act with the other mother as a spider.

        Again I’m talking about visuals not the animation.

      • Aaron

        I appreciated that ParaNorman avoided big set pieces(except for the climax) and spent more time with the characters. Those big show stopper moments always pull me out of the movie and rarely push the story forward.

      • Zac

        I honestly don’t understand why people feel the need to compare a studio’s new movie to any of their old movies. I hear it a lot with Pixar movie’s too, and I just don’t get it. It’s a different story, written by different people, with a different objective, released at a different time of the year, aimed a different audience.

      • B. Rubble

        Toonio is comparing the visuals(not the story) of the two movies which is completely relevant particularly when somebody feels that movie fails to live up to a standard set by the studio’s previous film(s). While it may not always be fair or appropriate to compare one studio’s movies to another’s, comparing a studio’s movies to its own movies gives a sense of the direction the studio is headed.

      • Zac

        The story drives the visuals, don’t they? What I mean is that it’s a different kind of story. Coraline’s story was built around four or five set pieces, and each one had a ‘dark world’ version, it has a greater potential. It’s a glorified video game and you can’t compare a zombie movie to that (I should point out that I loved Coraline and thought it was a more enjoyable movie than Paranorman). Paranorman is based in the real world. Just a normal town.

        And either way, it’s not like Paranorman was a step backwards for the studio. I thought the effect on the ghosts was nice, the witch swirling around in the clouds, the design of the forest at the end was fun, the confrontation with the witch, not to mention the entire town they built. It’s not like the -quality- of Paranormans visuals is any less, they’re just not as impressive as Coraline’s. And it’s Coraline’s story that drove that.

  • Sarah J

    The movie itself was pretty damn good. Had the somewhat cliche “boy with special powers gets mocked for it but ends up saving the day” storyline, but it kept it fresh by using new ideas and good writing. Had some funny scenes as well as scary ones, totally loved it.

    The animation? AMAZING. Seriously, it rivals the recent “Pirates” movie in detail! I rarely see an animated film that has hair move like in ParaNorman. There was a lot of attention to the detail in the character models and sets was great and very creative. And there was this one fat lady character, when she moved her fat jiggled as it would on a real woman of similar build. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that pulled off in stop motion!

  • Bud

    What a GREAT movie! It made me feel like a kid again!

    Congratulations to ALL involved.

    I can’t wait to see it again!

  • Okay…I’m the odd man out here…I had a lot of problems with this film especially in how they handled the tolerance message, which I felt was all wrong in the way it was executed. It had its moments, but the film completely fell apart for me in the third act.


    When we do find out the witches entity behind everything is really a little girl…well, all it did was leave me confused and wanting to ask more questions. Like for example…why a little girl? Why was she so powerful? Where did she get this kind of power? If she’s the same as Norman in that she can also see spirits, does Norman have the same kind of magic powers that she has to raise the dead? It’s never explained. There wasn’t enough backstory to support why the little girl could do the things that she did. We get no real history about who she really was, which I understand is the point in the beginning…but when we do find out who she is late in the game, the lack of information on her is not in service to the truth of her character. Instead she’s reduced as a character used only so Norman can deliver the films message as opposed to her being treated as a real person. It may sound like I’m reaching in asking questions about where the girl came from… but in having these lack of answers, I felt it only served to meet the contrived needs of the films message.

    And yes, I think the films whole message about tolerance is totally forced and contrived. A part of its contrived nature is the lack of information we get regarding the history of the girl, but at the end, we see the zombie of the judge who sentenced the girl to death as a witch feeling apologetic, because he should have learned to have been more tolerant of others who are different. Well, excuse me, but the judge is a spirit from the 17th century where the ideas of tolerance in the 21st century didn’t exist. He had the little girl killed because he thought she was a witch…so he could PROTECT HIS PEOPLE. And lets face it, if the little girl had the kind of power she did as a dead person when she was alive, who would blame him for having her killed? It was a different time. There were no witch pride parades. People lived in fear of witches. He is not at fault for acting the way he did. What we have instead are the filmmakers imposing 21st century ideals on another time period when messages about tolerance for those who are different from us were just not possible. The actions of those people from the past may have been wrong then, but to judge them now when in their time those people were just living up to their ideals and religious beliefs, they certainly didn’t think they were wrong. It’s not their fault. Part of having tolerance is understanding where the other person is coming from as well. You can’t blame people for acting the way they did towards black people before the civil rights movement, just as you can’t blame those who burned witches at the stake out in earlier centuries because their intolerance was born out of a lack of understanding. That’s the kind of message this film should have shared. Not to just force everyone to see things the way you do, but to still understand where the other person is coming from. Because intolerance is a learned behavior. Its not always the other persons fault for not understanding. The message of Paranorman was totally preachy and misguided.

    I had other problems with it besides the message, which if you click on my name you can read on my blog, but that was my primary beef with it.

    • Zac

      I don’t know, man. I think you missed the idea that the girl was just like Norman. She didn’t have super powers that were threatening her 17th century town, she could just see and talk with ghosts. They condemned her as a witch and her anger over it inflated her spirits powers. I’ll agree that they didn’t explain the nature of her ‘curse’ and how that all worked, but I kind of think the creators of Paranorman were drawing their influences from classic zombie movies, where a curse is just a curse and a “witch” just has powers. I feel like modern audiences have a hard time suspending their disbelief if the entire movie isn’t 100% plausible.

      And whether or not the judge zombie thought he was “protecting” his people doesn’t mean that after hundreds of years stuck as a zombie he wouldn’t rethink it at all. The people clearly didn’t lose their sense of self when they came back as zombies, so..

      • Hi Zac,
        This isn’t about suspension of disbelief. Suspension of disbelief is a negotiation between the filmmakers and the audience…if the filmmaker needs to cut a few corners in order to move the story forward, normally the audience is willing to oblige as long as it doesn’t interfere with the larger themes of the film. So for myself, if I’m asked to use it and its not interfering with the story, I can go along with it just fine.

        In Paranorman, however, the girls powers are a major story point in the film. Finding out where her powers came from is important because she is connected to Norman in that they can both see spirits. What do her powers say about Normans own abilities? Thats why I asked in another post, does Norman have access to the same abilities as the girl? Could he potentially cause just as much havoc and chaos as she does? This is important stuff he should know! How come she’s the only ghost around who can raise the dead? There are plenty of ghosts just as angry as she is who can’t do the things that she can. If she wasn’t really a practicing witch when she was alive, then what is she? Who is she? If her powers are just arbitrary, then we don’t really know what the truth of her character is. So what’s left then? A figurehead…a poster child used so the filmmakers can preach their message of tolerance. The character doesn’t come from a place of truth and honesty, she is being used to manipulate the audiences emotions so Norman can start monologuing to her in a big grand speech. I don’t know how we’re expected to progress as a medium and be taken seriously by audiences if all we’re going to do is make films about characters dictating morals. Its a major beef I have with animated features today, and I wish the filmmakers would stop with the preachy monologuing and stop making the message more important than the characters. It really pisses me off because they’re always pulling this shit in animated films…they ask the audience to use their suspension of disbelief so they can make up excuses to cover up for bad writing. And Zac, in suggesting all these theories of yours about where the girls powers and the influence of zombie movies on the film, doesn’t it ever strike you as odd that you have to fill in the blanks that the filmmakers didn’t bother to answer for themselves? If this movie were “The Empire Strikes Back”, you wouldn’t have to make suggestions or come up with theories because Lucas had his vision of his world worked out. He’s answered all the questions for you.

        The kind of crap that gets by audiences in films now is nonsense, and sometimes I think we’ve had so many bad movies dumped on us over the last several years that we’re willing to make up anything to justify why we’re still willing to watch them.

      • Zac

        I guess I don’t feel like I’m sacrificing my integrity by simply enjoying what the movie had to offer. I find it frustrating that a lot of people just latch on to the problems of a movie. Fixate on the shortcomings in the narrative or how the effects weren’t as good as this or that, instead of the things they did well. I mean, if a movie is bad then it’s bad, but this wasn’t a bad movie, it has a lot of good things going on and I hate seeing those things being washed under a tide of negativity by people with unnaturally high expectations.

        Telling a perfect story is a hard thing to do, that’s why movies that stand the test of time like Star Wars are such a rare thing. Even though comparing this movie to Star Wars is pretty unfair, Empire was the climax of a trilogy, they had laid most of their ground work in A New Hope, which isn’t a great movie by any means. I mean, nevermind that the whole trilogy isn’t an original story whatsoever, it’s extremely derivative of other works. Which I’m sure could be said about a lot of good movies, but either way, I don’t consider Lucas to be a movie making genius.

        I can see you have some very well thought out issues with the story, and I do agree with you, monologuing is a boring plot device, the origin of the curse was poorly explained, and the reveal of the witch actually being a little girl just raised questions about Norman’s abilities. I guess. But I didn’t feel like I had to ‘fill in holes’ as you say just to follow the story. Now, with a movie like Prometheus, there were a lot of holes I had to fill in, just to make sense of the story. With Paranorman, I was willing to accept what was given, because in a zombie movie, a curse can just be a curse.

        But I get it, you expect more from your entertainment and you’re right to do so. I do agree with you about how animated movies tend to get reduced to one-note moral delivering systems. Which is what happened with the witch’s character. It would have made a more rewarding experience if they got the audience to care about the little girl a little more before Norman confronted her. But the reveal was kind of the point. I mean, there were problems with the story, but I guess in general I don’t mind when filmmakers leave things open to interpretation. Obviously some directors are better at that then others.

      • It’s cool man. I’ve already said my piece, but I’m happy for you if you got something out of the film. Just so you know though, if you read my post at the very bottom of the page I changed my example from Star Wars to The Iron Giant, which thematically seemed like a more fitting example (it’s also animated), but your welcome to disagree if you like.

  • Chelsea

    I think there are a few things odd about what you’ve said.

    first) “if the little girl had the kind of power she did as a dead person when she was alive,”

    It is never said or insinuated in the film that she did. My understanding of the situation is that the girl just had the same powers of talking to the dead as Norman while she was alive, but that she came back in death as a deranged spirit with powers born of her hate and anguish. I do not know if this is the ‘correct’ impression, but I never assumed she had magical powers in life because the film never seems to say or suggest she did.

    Which is why I don’t think it’s a huge issue that we don’t know everything about her. I felt content with the idea that her extra powers were born of hate. I didn’t think it odd that she had so many extra powers than Norman, because she was a dead spirit full of turmoil. Norman was just a slightly shy and confused kid who could talk to ghosts. More info would have been nice maybe, but I wouldn’t necessarily argue that it was needed for a more complete understanding of the story.

    two) “There were no witch pride parades. People lived in fear of witches. He is not at fault for acting the way he did.”

    Just because it was a different time does NOT excuse away the crimes. Yes, considering the times and the way people thought of the world then, it makes sense that they would be fearful enough to kill a child. Understanding the context does not make it acceptable. It makes it reviewable in history, but what he did was certainly still wrong.

    third) “You can’t blame people for acting the way they did towards black people before the civil rights movement, just as you can’t blame those who burned witches at the stake out in earlier centuries because their intolerance was born out of a lack of understanding.”

    It isn’t about blame. What people do out of intolerance can still be wrong, even if their actions were out of good intent or ignorance. That is not an excuse for getting off scott free from a horrible act. It isn’t cause for damnation either. I thought that the fact that Norman knew what the people had done, and was angry with them for it (rightfully so), but still made sure they were safe from the raging mob was a very good example of tolerance. Even though Norman thought the actions of the zombies were despicable, he didn’t want them killed for it. That is a good example of tolerance and understanding.

    • Hi Chelsea,
      Thanks for commenting on my post. Here’s a few things.

      Re: Little girl with magic powers
      The problem with not having an explanation for the girls powers is that it becomes a contrived plot device. If she had this ability to control the dead, how come other angry spirits who feel just as much hate can’t do the same thing? There would be spirits just as angry as she is all over the world raising the dead and causing havoc. It’s just lazy writing, and its why I said she winds up becoming a poster child (so to speak) for the films message instead of her coming from a place of truth and being a real flesh and blood character.

      “Just because it was a different time does NOT excuse away the crimes.”

      I’m sorry to disagree with you, but yes it does. Look, I’m not trying to sound like a bigot here when I say this…yes what the judge did is considered wrong now, but in making him apologetic for it when he was just trying to do the right thing for his people, the filmmakers are judging history and another time. We all know now that what happened back in that time was wrong, but those people living in it didn’t…and what they were doing was legal. For the judge in the film it was motivated by the act of protecting other people. That’s all he knew. Why should he have to apologize? Why should he have to spend eternity as a ghost on earth until he learns his lesson? It’s silly and ridiculous. They do get off scott free because they’re dead and gone. But its up to us now to learn from those mistakes of the past and not to judge others for being so different.

      “I thought that the fact that Norman knew what the people had done, and was angry with them for it (rightfully so), but still made sure they were safe from the raging mob was a very good example of tolerance.”

      Safe from what? They’re dead! They can’t be killed and if pieces of them fall off they can put themselves back together. Why should they care if other people are coming after them? I think they kind of have the advantage. What does Norman really learn about himself in the film? He doesn’t really find inner strength in the same way the boy in The Sixth Sense does. In the Sixth Sense, the boy becomes a hero because he learns not to be afraid of his powers but to use them to help other spirits in need. It doesn’t matter what other people think of him, he’s found a sense of purpose in his life. He becomes a hero as result. Normans whole journey only seems to be about getting other people to like him and tolerate him. And how did this happen for him? A big supernatural event conveniently drops into his town so he can save everyone and become a hero in the eyes of everyone else. Now everyone likes him. Umm…I’m sorry to say…I don’t think most kids growing up have that kind of advantage. Norman doesn’t really learn anything…all he does is make preachy speeches at convenient times, so he tells everyone that he’s right and everyone else is wrong. That’s not the way to approach it. There’s always going to be someone intolerant of your own beliefs. But being tolerant still means having respect and understanding for the other person as well, not just forcing them to change their belief system so they’ll be tolerant of you. It doesn’t matter what those other people think anyway. But as long as they’re not hurting or killing anyone, they have just as much right to feel the way they do as you do about yourself. That doesn’t mean they won’t come around eventually.

      I just thought in the film the message could have been handled in a much less preachy and forced way. It’s the right time for this kind of message, but the way it was executed was just all wrong.

      • Chelsea

        I still very much disagree with your view on the ‘judgement of actions of people from past times’ but that being so, there isn’t much else I could say without going on a tangent.

        I will concede that Norman’s character evolution could have been stronger, your comparison to the boy in the Sixth Sense is a good comparison and shed some interesting light on Norman’s situation. However, I don’t think Norman’s journey is weak. I think it was at minimum acceptable. I think Norman did learn quite a few things… he learned to trust in himself and to accept the help of others, which he then turned around and reached out to the little girl to show her.
        And your statement here:
        “Normans whole journey only seems to be about getting other people to like him and tolerate him.”
        Belittles a part of Norman’s character that I don’t actually think is a ‘flaw’ in character. Different heroes achieve greatness and grow in different ways, and no, a hero’s journey should not ONLY be about gaining approval from others and many heroes don’t need that journey at all. But I think it was an important thing for Norman to learn to accept himself and others.

        “A big supernatural event conveniently drops into his town so he can save everyone and become a hero in the eyes of everyone else. Now everyone likes him. Umm…I’m sorry to say…I don’t think most kids growing up have that kind of advantage.”

        You could make that argument for just about every hero story involving sci/fi, magic, etc. because the supernatural element is not supposed to be taken so literally as you seem to be taking it. Harry Potter is a good example of a ‘magic event causes adventure growing up!’ story, and yeah wouldn’t you know the supernatural events always conveniently change the character..! Because er, that is the point. Perhaps you were simply trying to say that Paranorman’s supernatural element felt too contrived and too obvious as a story element, which I can understand but don’t agree.

        In any case I think you’ve made some good points but I think the film deserves more credit than you’re giving it.

      • Hi Chelsea,
        Okay, we’ll agree to disagree on the morals of history, and yeah that’s probably another discussion altogether. But regarding Normans character development, I just saw no signs throughout the film that the adventure really changed him. Norman just starts going off on these monologues about tolerance. Where in the film did he really learn any of this? If the little girl witch and Norman are the same, what’s to keep him from going to the dark side and developing the same powers for raising the dead as the girl? It could have been so great if they went there, even if Norman eventually came out of it, he would really have the experience of knowing what that feeling of hatred does to someone. We know what it did to Luke Skywalker when he almost went to the dark side, we know what it did to The Iron Giant when he almost destroys everyone in the town. That’s far more powerful imagery. Where did this sudden wisdom in Norman come from? He doesn’t really make any mistakes…he doesn’t really do anything that might reveal any flaws in his character. He’s a good guy, but he’s a little too good. He’s far more passive than people make him out to be, and instead he winds up becoming a speechmaker. What he says might reaffirm the audiences own beliefs regarding the message, but apart from being picked on, he really has no experience of his own to back up what he’s saying because his own beliefs are never challenged. He doesn’t really do anything. I just don’t think he’s the heroic character everyone says he is.

      • Mohegan

        Oh I would like the say something about the ‘sudden’ wisdom Norman had.


        I remember him saying something to Aggie about how people can do stupid things when they are afraid. I believe his grandmother or mother told him that. Also, since he is not the most sociable kid out there I think he had lots of times to think about his life and the ‘tolerance’ townspeople seemed to lack. And he does make mistakes. It’s not only his talking to ghosts that drove people away, he also avoided social contact, even when Neil tried to be friends with him. And at the end of the movie he thanked Neil for his friendship, so he did learn from his ‘mistakes.’

        Wish I could explain it better, but that is how I see it.

  • I really enjoyed this film, I was shocked that an animated kids movie had a couple swear words thrown in, just a hell or a damn though, it is PG. I appreciated the film more for taking itself seriously as well. The 3D wasn’t worth it, it didn’t have many cool 3D effects, honestly the coolest 3D effect was the Despicable Me 2 trailer. The voice actors gave great performances, and its just enjoyable, I’ve seen other reviews knocking for reasons I dont know understand, makes me wonder if people forget this is a kids movie and demand more from it.

  • Gobo

    I really, really enjoyed ParaNorman’s design, craft, humor, tone, and ambition. It’s a gorgeous movie that heaps huge rewards on people who love old creepy movies — and people who were geeks growing up. I loved the first third or so of the movie and I loved the ending; I completely disagree with the comments above about the issues with the message. They missed the point, which is sad.

    What I didn’t love was that on some levels the movie missed some opportunities. We meet the same stock bully, stock fat-buddy friend, etc. Lots of stereotypical characters here, and the ‘chase sequence’ in the middle felt like padding. I also agree with other reviewers that got tired of the repetitive explanations.

    My biggest issue, and I know this is a bit petty… is that in the beginning, we see that Norman can chat with basically every ghost from every era that’s hanging around town. That’s wonderful, and opens up huge possibilities… that are never explored. Norman runs around town, panicking, and never thinks “oh hey, I could just ask a random ghost for advice, since they’re freakin’ everywhere”. There’s way too much time dealing with ugly, awful people (his sister, Alvin, etc) and not enough time dealing with all the awesome ghosts surrounding him.


    It is bold film that takes the risk of being scary at times, disturbing and extragross (tongue part), a refreshing thing to see these days ruled by ICEAGE4s,Madagascar3s and all those PIXAR sequels announced .

  • joe

    The animation was great but the story bored me. After about 45 min I just paid attention to technical details, like how realistic the hair and clothes look, or the excellent acting on the various characters. The story comes across as pre-teen content, with cliche characters and uninspired dialogue. This is one that’s probably great for the kids, but Mom and Dad would be better off with another movie.

  • Jonathan

    I’ve never had such mixed feelings about an animated film before. Visually, I found Paranorman to be perfect – something I had anticipated but NEVER to the level I found in the film! Everything from the beautiful shots to the way the lighting interacted with the puppet materials’ subsurface features and ears made the stop-motion characters look… alive. My depression for the flat story though matched (and at some times exceeded) my enthusiasm for the film’s innovative aesthetics to the point I questioned why the feature was made. The characters are so poorly thought out they go beyond being flat at times to being just downright not nice people. (An example is the only time Norman’s father supported him for ANYTHING, which was AFTER the fact Norman had proven himself right about the curse and successfully saved the town. Good job, Norman. Bad job, unsupportive father character with no apologetic moment in the story.) At the end of the film, I decided that Chris Butler and Sam Fell wanted a technical film, not a story film.

  • Glen

    Paranorman opened at # 4 this weekend. Doesn’t bode well.

    • Blasko

      It’s only Saturday now. Not likely to be a big hit on Friday night. Let’s see where it is come Monday.

      • I went and saw it at the Arclight Sherman Oaks Friday night, opening day. There’s were only two evening shows, a 2D showing at 7:40pm and a 3D showing at 10:05pm. There were no 3D showings at all in the early evening. I would have thought normally an animated film would be in more screens since they tend to do well, but since its not CG…

        Doesn’t sound like they have much confidence this film will do well.

      • Hank

        Box office projections tend to be pretty accurate–this cartoon will end up #4 this weekend with just over $13 million. And it’s not. because it’s not CG.

      • Bud

        WHOO HOO! Paranorman seems to be Number 3 rather than number 4! Of course, final numbers don’t come out until late Monday.

        At least it beat Sparkle.

  • lousmer

    excellent film. baffles me how people get hung up on the things in their own heads. this movie was terrific. loved every bit of it. great job laika. looking forward to more.

  • Jen

    I loved this film to death (ha!). Thankfully, I opted not to psych myself out for ParaNorman and was able to enter the theater with an open mind. Boy was I blown away!

    The animation is superb. The designs were beautiful. I loved how all of the characters weren’t symmetrical even down to the eyes and irises. Laika sure knows how to push their designs. You can really tell that they all are huge scary movie enthusiasts. Amazing fonts aside, when I found out that the Crunch bars actually said “Cuj-Ohs”, I was completely in love.

    The humor was so wonderfully witty and subtle. I wish more films were like this. It’s such a relief in a stream of Disney and Dreamworks gags. Everyone keeps saying how flat these characters feel to them, but I simply don’t see it. The father was the most real to me. You don’t follow his entire emotional arc, but what you do see is brilliant. When the grandmother called him a crude name, I was shocked by how honest they were being with his character. The father is a genuine jerk towards Norman, very set in his ways and the mother has to act as mediator between father and son. Parents are supposed to be role models, but that’s not always an easy task.

    What strikes me as interesting is how progressive Norman’s town actually is. Between Mitch’s character and Norman’s tolerant patient mother, you get the feeling that the town isn’t quite as conservative as the mob would lead you to believe. I’m still mulling over how this affects the story, but it’s something I haven’t seen in animated films before now and it’s definitely a welcome change.

    Laika has done a truly beautiful job with this film and I can’t wait to see more! I hope they can continue to make honest, witty, fun films like this one. Keep up the great work guys!

  • I loved this movie far more than I had expected to. Not only was the animation magnificent, but the story and message grabbed me and didn’t let go.
    I have been bullied all my life, and being a transgender guy, most people don’t tend to take me completely seriously. I cried hard during this movie because it made me think of my own life, as well as the bigotry I and so many others face every single day of our lives and the fact that people have been and still are not only being mistreated but murdered for being themselves. On the flip side, I cried because it made me think about just how much my friends mean to me right now, especially the ones who were sitting with me in the theater. I know it’s sappy, but I had never seen such a wonderfully relatable, painfully frank movie before.

  • BT

    I love stop motion and I thought Paranorman looked like fun, but I was surprised by how much I loved it. From the opening horror movie with perfect Italian keyboard score I knew it was something a little different. Even with its cartoony idea of what horror movies are it touched me by how much it captured the childhood of a morbid little horror fan like myself. And the way you can feel about your family even when the situation isn’t terrible.

    It’s also very observant about little details of a modern small town from the design of the buildings to the crap that would be in a dirty old house to the stupid earrings that a bully wears. I found myself staring at the sets sometimes, all the beautifully crooked lines in tiles and doors and the weird proportions of the otherwise very realistic station wagon.

    I do think it drags a little in the middle zombie section and could have been even better by trimming some of the dialogue in the climax, but these are small complaints. The voice acting particularly for Norman and Neal are excellent performances that really bring the characters to life and make their friendship sweet. (Neal reminded me of Thurman Merman in Bad Santa.) And once you find out what’s really going on things get great and go in unexpected directions.

    I love that Norman is a hero not for performing some magic task or fighting a monster or being a chosen one, but because he was the only one smart enough to say “let’s talk to her.” And then it was no easy task, he still had to put in a real effort and make a human connection with somebody.

    The 3D is also well executed and I recommend staying after the credits for a nice little behind-the-scenes tag.

  • eeteed

    1) the little bit at the end after the credits was mind blowing. it alone was worth the price of admission

    2) the animation and visuals were incredible. so much better than anything that can presently be done with cgi.

    3) this definitely has oscar potential.

    4) my only problem with this film is that i felt parts of it were derivative of other movies. the zombie hand moving about reminded me of thing from the adams family. trouble in the sky leading everyone to town hall and the overweight father who wouldn’t believe in his son reminded me of chicken little. the van tumbling to a stop, and later the father telling the back seat passengers to be quiet or he’ll pull over the car both reminded me of the camper scene from the incredibles.

  • Skip

    Really liked this film. Without a doubt the best production value that I’ve ever seen in Stop-Motion animation, and the character animation was exceptional. As for the story I was entertained throughout the movie. I would have to say that Brave is the animated film that I have liked best so far this year, though ParaNorman is a close 2nd. In this day and age when CG has become the dominant force in animation it’s to see that stop Motion can still hold its own. Hopefully in the not too distant future the same can be said about 2D.

  • Bernadette

    Brilliant!! I love the character design!! Especially the mom and grandma. And Norman was just adorable. Coraline is now my second favorite stop motion feature, but it’s very close:)

  • Glowworm

    Definately not the “zombies apocolypse for kids” movie I was expecting from the trailers–and I did sort of expect Norman to use his ability to see and talk to spirits in order to break the town’s curse. In other words, I was expecting a lot of those spirits that Norman was chatting with on the way to school to reappear in order to help aid Norman when it came to ending the curse.

    However, for what it was, it was fun, quirky, and definately more mature than the usual children’s movie–basically it was much in the vein of “Rango” when it came to unexpected adult humor.

    I loved some of the tiny hidden touches throughout the film such as the bully attempting to spell his name correctly in the bathroom stall, A book entitled “You’re Not Creepy” in the deceased uncle’s house, and a sign on the town hall for a “Criminal Prevention Seminar” that Alvin the bully promptly throws at the building in order to break in.

    I also enjoyed the twist regarding the identity of the witch–although this was when I realized the movie was less of a “Zombie Rampage” movie and more of an “Anti-bullying” sort of movie. The twist regarding Mitch in particular was extremely hilarious and came off well.

    Neil in particular was a very fun character. He kept getting great lines and recieved plenty of laughs throughout the film.

    One of my favorite bits had to be when the ghostly uncle orders Norman to swear. A confused Norman responds “You mean the f-word?” That was really clever.

  • Hans W.

    Although the animation was superb, I thought the film was too scary for little kids and too childish for any adult. “Coraline” (even though also a bit scary at some points) was much more to my liking.

  • Nipplenuts McGurk

    I thought the first 20 minutes were pretty charming…but the annoying Uncle character started the snowball of horrible exposition filled “story”…”take this book and go here and read this and stop this witch and whatever”. From that point it was just non stop talking and explaining and bickering and screaming. No organic storytelling and no fun. I was so bored I honestly wanted to walk out…it just kept getting worse… seemed like a 20 minute cliche preachy conversation with the “villain”. Many attempts at visual gags that just fell flat. Very strange pacing. Just didn’t work for me at all.

    Shame, as the animation was unbelievable….stop motion keeps getting better and better – so that aspect was a true achievement. Oh, well….

  • Saw it on Sunday with my wife and kids. This is one of the few animated films I have been wanting to see since I first saw anything about it a long time ago. The animation work is beautiful. So nice to see Laika take what many to be a close to dead art form and just push it beyond what anyone thought was possible. The story is solid and gets to it quickly. The shots with the little girl (witch) with Norman are and will stand out to me as some of the most amazing stop motion or animation I have seen in a long time. Thank you everyone at Laika for making an amazing film with even more amazing animation. I could see the sweat and passion in each frame. By the way my kids ages 9 and 10 had been wanting to see this film for months now and were not disappointed.

  • Valkyrie

    Paranorman was a great movie. It was visually stunning, emotionally moving, and had a good message to it. It was heartfelt and personal to all who worked on it. It’s not for everyone of course, but we must also remember it’s not meant to be a serious movie. It’s for kids, albeit grown kids. The main nay-sayers seem to be jaded nitpickers. This isn’t star wars. This isn’t a historical commentary. It’s a beautiful movie, with a message that has been created for the purpose of entertaining people. You know, entertainment, as in fun stuff. You know, tolerance is a pretty important message, especially in the world we live in now. Most of our conflicts arise because of intolerance. Not a bad theme for children.

    • I assume by main naysayers (star wars, historical commentary) you’re referring to me :)

      I’m glad you liked the film, and you are right that tolerance is a good theme for children to learn, especially in the world we live in today. But I don’t believe in pandering to children either. You can say because its for kids its not meant to be taken seriously, but considering the films message is about something as important as tolerance, why would you not take the rest of the story seriously? Maybe Star Wars was the wrong example. How about something animated… like The Iron Giant. It’s a story that also incorporates themes of tolerance but never preaches to its audience (Hogarth never goes into monologues or preaches to the Giant, he teaches and explains things to him through kid logic, and the wisdom he learns comes from the people around him…his mother, Dean, etc. So I ask again, where did Norman, this shy, unappreciated kid, suddenly get this wisdom he tries to impart on everyone? ) The Iron Giant is also fun, exciting and entertaining, it’s historically accurate, and it also takes itself completely seriously, and the themes of the film are just as challenging for adults as they are for children. That’s great storytelling! That’s what I thought Paranorman should have been. I think kids deserve better.

      • Zac

        Well Iron Giant is just a better movie though, isn’t it. I mean, Brad Bird directed it. If everyone told a story as good as he does there’d be no bad movies in the world.

        Paranorman didn’t quite hit that mark, and I wanted a lot from it too when I first saw the trailers. I was super excited for this movie and thought it would be one of those classic animated movies, like The Iron Giant or to more fairly compare it, like Coraline.

        Coraline was a fantastic movie that I could watch over and over again. I liked it more than my kid does. It was mature, fun, a complex yet simple and relatable theme, and Coraline’s character arch is very believable and shows growth. Plus the whole thing felt like playing Zelda. Going into the dark world, using the tools at hand to defeat the castle bosses until you have the power to go after the main boss. It was great, and it was entertaining for all ages. so I expected big things from Paranorman, and it’s disappointing that they pandered to a younger audience, because I don’t feel like Laika did that in Coraline.

        That being said, it’s not a terrible movie, and it is entertaining and fun. I wish it was as good as I was imagining it would be, but you can’t just focus on the negatives of a movie. Being that I work in the animation industry, I’ve developed a very critical eye for entertainment, but it’s one thing to look at how a story could be better, and another thing to look at how a story sucked. Paranorman has some redeemable qualities. The scale of this movie is impressive for stop-motion and the animation was very well done. It’s not the studios best, but it’s their second feature film. I mean, Toy Story was a better movie than Bug’s Life, wasn’t it?