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ParaNorman.

I am usually not a big fan of animation. Television shows like The SimpsonsFamily Guy and Archer break the mold for me, probably because they are written mostly for an adult audience, but films of late offered by studios like Pixar (Toy StoryFinding Nemo) and Dreamworks (Shrek) have just never connected with me on any level. Not that they are bad, I just don’t “get it”. Every now and then these is one that piques my interest and ParaNorman was definitely one, and even though it ultimately is a kids movie to some extent, anything about zombies was worth checking out. For the most part, it’s a good effort. The story is about Norman, a social outcast in his school, community and home who has this unique gift of being able to communicate with ghosts and the dead pretty much everywhere he goes. Soon enough his hometown (which seems to be a cross between Salem and Plymouth, Massachusetts) is overtaken by zombies, and Norman seems to be the obvious choice to help his fellow town folk, but their prejudice of Norman’s eccentricities prove to be another force to be reckoned with. There were certain things about this movie that still had me restless in my seat as I waited for it’s end, but despite its understandable lack of boundary pushing, the film had many strong points. The lead character of Norman was a sweet, sympathetic and believable young kid, and the relationship with his new best friend Neil was very strong. Anyone, young or old, who felt out of step with their fellow classmates as a child, will fully relate to Norman’s life portrayed here. The strongest scene of the film was towards the beginning, where the writers successfully attempted to sum up the anxious social scene that is the teen years when Norman says “I like to be alone”, and Neil replying “So do I. Let’s do it together!”. The supporting cast of Norman’s sister, his Dad (Curb Your Enthusiasm‘s Jeff Garlin), his ghost of a Grandmother (the always wonderful Elaine Stritch) and the local bully (Superbad‘s Christopher Mintz-Plasse), amongst many others. And then there are the visuals that create a cozy, spooky, autumn atmosphere from the first frame to the end. Streets lined with fallen leaves, cloudy nights, black lit store fronts, just an overall glowing neon filled Halloween atmosphere, it sets the tone perfectly, and only left me wondering why this was released in August instead of October. If their goal was to get people excited for the Fall season and Halloween, well then the film was successful. It’s not a perfect film by any means, but unlike most animated films which has me glancing at my phone looking at the time like I’m George H.W Bush debating Bill Clinton, this one merely only had me thinking about looking at the time. Considering my history with animation, this is a high endorsement indeed. On a scale of 100, I give this one 73 voice over performances from Tempestt Bledsoe.

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