There is a huge legacy of beautifully animated films whose charm and sweetness appeal to children, yet which are so well written, so funny that adults are also drawn to them. “ParaNorman” is not one of them.
The film is a nearly-incomprehensible mess, embodied with characters more mean-spirited than funny or appealing.
Norman is a small, nice kid with wild hair. He has psychic powers and sees ghosts. Everyone living in his small town, including his family, thinks he is a “freak.” His one living friend is the fat kid in school, who has his own problems. Ghosts are nicer to Norman than people, and from this vantage the story evolves.
Norman lives in Blythe, a small New England town suffering from a witch’s curse dating back to when a young woman was burned for her transgressions. It falls upon Norman — hated and ostracized — with his unusual powers to confront the witch and rid the town of its curse.
At the bewitching hour, the judge and witnesses who condemned the young woman three centuries ago all rise from their graves as ghouls and start heading into town. This had the potential for comedy but was really just boring.
The witch’s presence is at all times looming in the swirling purple clouds in the sky. The curse — whatever it signified — ended with the drama of a Charmin toilet paper commercial.
Actually the film’s stop action was done quite well. The figures are suitably exaggerated and fun-looking. But the movie’s parents and kids are mean in a way that cuts just too close to the bone. The story is chaotic, which can be exciting and funny if properly choreographed. This is not.
If the kids want to go, send them, no harm done. Otherwise, stay home.
Jim Wigge is a Cazenovia resident who reviews movies for the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached through the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.