Film Review: ParaNorman

ParaNorman is a fun family animated feature that tows the line in being ghoulish without being frightening. The film should be enjoyed by adults and children alike.

In the town of Blithe Hollow, Norman is a young boy detached from the everyday world. Norman can see and talk to ghosts, but no one but his new friend Neil believes him. When his eccentric uncle tells him about a curse, it is down to Norman to save the town…

ParaNorman is an adventure film that is a bit more sombre than most animated features of this type. Humour is present in the film, but is not a constant feature. ParaNorman is not really a comedy. It is not a horror movie either. There are some macabre scenes, but it is never too scary for children.

Norman is an interesting protagonist. The early sequence of him walking to school is great in its ability to encapsulating his character. Themes of the outsider and belonging are played out overtly. There was a danger that the film would get overly sentimental, but ParaNorman eschews this. The film offers a meaningful message without excessive syrup.

There are some great references to the horror genre, that those even with just a passing acquaintance should be able to spot. The credit sequence is fantastic. With its references to old horror films, ParaNorman is almost a homage to the genre played out as a family animated movie.

Kodi Smit-McPhee is well cast as the voice of Norman. ParaNorman is populated with well known voices. Casey Affleck is amusing voicing Mitch, while Anna Kendrick, Leslie Mann and John Goodman all do a great job. The soundtrack to the film is also good.

ParaNorman is macabre in places, but its unequivocal message is most positive. A well animated and entertaining family film.

Trailer Round-Up

This week two new trailers have been released for upcoming animated features. The first trailer for remake Total Recall has also been unleashed, as well as a new trailer for Sacha Baron Cohen’s The Dictator.


ParaNorman is a new animated feature about a young boy who can speak to the dead. The film seems to be in a similar vein to Coraline, albeit with more humour and less terror. ParaNorman, which features the voices of Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck and John Goodman, is released on 14th September 2012.

Rise of the Guardians

Nothing to do with the owl film of a similar name, Rise of the Guardians is based on William Joyce’s book ‘The Guardians of Childhood’. The film is about a number of fantastical characters who team up in order to protect the world’s children. Rise of the Guardians features the voices of Hugh Jackman, Chris Pine and Alec Baldwin. The film is being released on 30th November 2012.

The Dictator

This week, the full trailer for The Dictator was released. It gives us more of an indicator of the plot for the film, and its not exactly what I was expecting. The film looks more like a traditional comedy than an outrageous satire. Hopefully Sacha Baron Cohen will provide plenty of laughs regardless. The Dictator was released on 18th May 2012.

Total Recall

The first full trailer for Len Wiseman’s remake of sci-fi classic Total Recall. Paul Verhoeven’s 1990 adaptation of the Philip K. Dick’s short story has a lot of fans, so it will be interesting to see the kind of reception this version will receive. Total Recall is released on 22nd August 2012.