‘ParaNorman,’ reviewed by Marshall Fine


The last time a kid was saying “I see dead people” in a movie, it was “The Sixth Sense” – and it was meant to be frightening.

Now the kid who’s saying it is the star of “ParaNorman,” which is meant to be funny and exciting.

Unfortunately wrong on both accounts.

Directed by Sam Fell and Chris Butler from a script by Butler, “ParaNorman” is a marvel of stop-motion animation, built on a script of flat jokes and frantic, frenetic but uninvolving action. It wants to be a horror comedy, but the horror is mild-mannered and the comedy never ignites.

Kodi Smit-McPhee voices Norman Babcock, a middle-school outcast because of his odd habit of speaking to the dead. His father (Jeff Garlin) yells at him for claiming to watch TV with his deceased grandmother, while Norman’s mother (Leslie Mann) preaches understanding to her short-tempered hubby.

Norman lives in a New England town that has built its tourist industry around a history of executing witches back in the old days – but Norman has started having visions about those olden times. They seem to forecast death, destruction and the return of the dead from the grave, part of one witch’s curse before her death.

This review continues on my website.

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