There’s only 2 days left until the new animated movie by LAIKA, “Paranorman”, hits theaters! Yep, that’s right, “Paranorman” opens nationwide on August 17, 2012. No doubt you’ve seen the commercials for it on TV, heard sound bites on the radio, or viewed the trailer in the theaters. If you’ve been living under a rock without TV, radio, or the movie theater, and have no clue what I’m talking about, see the official trailer below.
Jamie was lucky enough to get a press screening of the movie and was even luckier to get an interview with the directors, Sam Fell and Chris Butler! I would throw in a huge “EEEKKK!” here but that would sound unprofessional.
Lets start however, with what’s so special about LAIKA and “Paranorman”. I mean, what’s all the hype? It’s just another animated movie, right? Wrong! LAIKA produced the Academy Award-nominated movie “Coraline”, it’s first stop-motion movie. What is stop-motion animation? Well, according to Wikipedia, stop-motion is…
an animation technique to make a physically manipulated object appear to move on its own. The object is moved in small increments between individually photographed frames, creating the illusion of movement when the series of frames is played as a continuous sequence. Dolls with movable joints or clay figures are often used in stop motion for their ease of repositioning. Stop motion animation using plasticine is called clay animation or “clay mation”.
If you thought the animation in “Coraline” was good, “Paranorman” kicks it up a ton of notches with larger sets, more characters (including crowds), and finer details. Yeah, LAIKA went overboard with this animation! It is truly unbelievable. Check out a sneek peak in the official trailer. You won’t believe that this is all real sets and real “puppets” they are using!
As far as the plot of the movie goes, it is an interesting idea:
A small town comes under siege by zombies. Who can it call? Only misunderstood local boy Norman, who is able to speak with the dead. In addition to the zombies, he’ll have to take on ghosts, witches and, worst, of all, grown-ups, to save his town from a centuries-old curse. But this young ghoul whisperer may find his paranormal activities pushed to their otherworldly limits.
What’s nice about the plot, and what most people won’t really discuss, is that it has a underlying anti-bullying theme. You wouldn’t think that scary zombies and anti-bullying would go together but Chris Butler (who wrote and co-directed “Paranorman”) did a seamless job of combining the two. A clip of my interview below discusses the anti-bullying side of “Paranorman”.
Overall, the movie was awe-inspiring to watch, humorous in parts, thought provoking, at times emotional, definitely entertaining, and a little scarier than I expected. It was slightly slow in the middle but I wouldn’t deduct any points as the rest of the movie makes up for it. Though I did pick up on the anti-bullying theme as an adult, I’m not sure it will be as prominent to children because of the fascination of the zombies and the overall showyness (is that a word?) of the movie.
Speaking of the scariness…what age range is “Paranorman” appropriate for? Well, let’s ask the directors:
So, should you go see “Paranorman”? ABSOLUTELY! I’m going to see it again with a few friends, their kids, and my kids next week!