Directed by Sam Fell & Chris Butler
Paranorman is a funny, charming stop-motion animated family horror-comedy that sadly loses steam approaching the third act, but is nonetheless wholly entertaining.
Despite the weak finale, most of this movie is pretty great. The dialogue is clever, the characters are enjoyable, the animation is wonderful, and at about halfway through I found myself thinking this could very well be one of my favorite movies of the year. No, it couldn't keep this level of entertainment up throughout the entire runtime, but that doesn't negate the effectiveness and enjoyability of the first two acts, which were a lot of fun.
I had hoped that the movie, which prominently features death (as well as several other dark subjects), would have further embraced its darker nature and found a less sappy, conventional conclusion. Being from the same studio that brought us Coraline, I had hoped - though not expected - this to be the case, but was ultimately disappointed. I can't even begrudge the fact that the movie didn't end on a dark note. As a film intended for viewers of all ages, certain compromises had to have been made to keep it light enough not to terrify any children who may watch it. But since I'm not necessarily a child, I would have preferred it being dark, which I feel would have drastically improved it. Besides, who really cares about kids, anyway? Let them scream.
When it comes to visual style, there is much to be said for stop-motion animation. The time and effort required to give the characters and background their consistent flow of motion really shines through, and the quality of work put into this film is no exception to this rule. The rich texture of this style has a depth not found in most computer-animated films, which has almost entirely taken over as the sole form of animation as this point in time. EVen as the movie itself began to slip, I was still consistently impressed by its style. I love that this kind of movie is still (occasionally) being made.
The story, though generic, is engaging enough. The characters aren't particularly deep, but are nonetheless entertaining thanks to the strong vocal cast and fun script. The film's strong suits certainly outweigh the negatives - which, I suppose, could easily be attributed to my own personal biases and expectations. But I'm not basing my review on what other people think, so I'm not giving the movie any higher of a rating than this.
In conclusion, I had a lot of fun with this movie. I really did. For the first hour, I laughed more than I had for any other movie this year. It's a shame that the ending fell so flat, seeing as how it is the most important part of the movie - leaving the strongest impression - but in hindsight, no amount of sappiness can stop me from liking this movie. Every film has its mistakes, so I'm willing to forgive this movie for having a few of its own.