Director: Sam Fell, Chris Butler
Nominated: Best Animated Feature Film
ParaNorman has clearly been influenced by the visual style of Tim Burton with exaggerated body types. The final nominee in the Best Animated Feature category and the last stop-motion animation film. Although in truth it’s really more of a combination film utilizing CGI for the vast amount of dead people Norman sees. ParaNorman taps into the ever popular zombie genre, especially popular at the minute with the current success of The Walking Dead (Frank Darabont, 2010) and aimed it squarely at children.
Norman is just one of a bunch of misfits at the school; cast out because he can see dead people. Eventually, however due to the circumstances that befall his town he becomes the leader of this band of misfits thanks to the talent that separated him in the first place. Of course his parents don’t get him – he has a testy relationship with his dad at best. And his mum loves him but still doesn’t entirely understand him.
Neil is an endearing character, the cubby fat kid, who is surprisingly courageous, trying to befriend the reluctant Norman. There are little nods to the horror genre throughout with Neil wearing the hockey mask not intrinsically linked with Jason Voorhees and the Friday 13th series. The zombies are hilarious rather than scary but then I’m watching this aged 25 so I’d hope I wouldn’t be scared by animated zombies.
Of course the adults in the film are worse than useless causing obstacles to Norman’s rag-tag group who are actually trying to save the town. The mob mentality takes over and they run riot destroying the town. For all it’s a film about zombies there is a deeper message to it as well which is one of not giving into bullies and letting yourself becomes as mean and destructive as they are.
I enjoyed ParaNorman more than I thought I would, even laughing out loud at the zombie with a plunger stuck on its head, but there was something much more plastic about the stop-motion models used in ParaNorman than those used in The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists! (Peter Lord, Jeff Newitt) and Frankenweenie (Tim Burton) and it became somewhat distracting.