What’s wrong with PARANORMAN?


My wife spent a few years working in the film and TV industry in NYC, and I know that she’ll want to see a movie if there’s beautiful animation. So when I heard that PARANORMAN had been made in true stop motion animation, I knew she’d want to see it.

And it was good. It’s full of beautiful choices, including slightly translucent ears. It made my son laugh several times. The pacing was quick and the performances worked.

Which doesn’t change the fact that I left vaguely dissatisfied. Part of the problem is that Norman’s world is filled with ghosts, right up to the point that he could use their help. Then the movie complete forgets that the whole town is crowded with kindly dead folks. Weirdly, there’s a scene specifically to set up his grandmother’s spirit as his protector, but then the movie forgets all about her.

The other problem is the way the antagonists lose their potency mid-story. Until the final final baddie shows up, one antagonist after another is essentially disarmed through the power of reasonable discussion. Nothing builds. It just keeps fizzling out, and the threat the main baddie represents doesn’t become concrete until the last few minutes.

All of those choices steal urgency from the story. Still, it’s a fun movie and gorgeous to look at. There’s even an Easter egg at the end showing a stop motion of the creation of the main character. I’m tempted to buy the DVD just for that.