Zombie tale pulls pleasant surprisesBy Rito P. Asilo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
ANIMATED films are pretty to look at, but are so predictable that many of them end up looking like sticks in the cinematic mud. Not “ParaNorman.” The latest offering from Laika Inc. (“Coraline”) is a flawed but yummy stop-motion animated confection—and one of the year’s most delightful comedies.
While the movie is fun-filled and family-friendly, it doesn’t get its laughs from kooky characters dishing up in-your-face humor, which is the tiresome norm. In the colorful but strange world Norman Babcock (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee) inhabits, zombies and vengeful witches share the spotlight with distant classmates and school bullies.
The young protagonist is himself far from conventional. It doesn’t help that he is ostracized by his own family and is bullied at school, usually by big-boy Alvin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). His only friend is Neil (Tucker Albrizzi), who’s as eccentric as he is fat and impressionable. And, unlike most kids his age, the lonely outcast has a special “gift”—he sees and talks to dead people!
His ability as a medium becomes useful when zombies begin to rise from the dead. Norman must find the unmarked grave of Agatha (Jodelle Ferland), the angry young witch who put a curse on the town’s founding fathers—the people who condemned her—in 1712.
To stop the witch and her 300-year-old curse from wreaking havoc on the town, Norman must perform a magical ritual with a special book before sundown. Helping him fulfill his mission are his loquacious cheerleader sister, Courtney (Anna Kendrick); Neil and his muscle-bound but dim-witted older brother, Mitch (Casey Affleck), and Norman’s newfound friend, Alvin—but, time is running out!
Sam Fell and Chris Butler’s film pulls one pleasant surprise after another. Aside from the scrumptious color palette that they utilize to bring their eye-popping images to life, you’ll be entertained by the production’s mixed bag of narrative twists that seamlessly juggles wry humor with the unexpected cautionary drama it soon introduces into the story.
Is Agatha a Glinda or an Elphaba—or both? And, which other zombie movie shows its walking dead running away from the annoyed and angry living mob they’re supposed to devour?
Still unconvinced? We don’t want to spoil the movie-going fun for you, so we’ll just say that the film is a happy, zippy mishmash of “The Walking Dead” and “Wicked” (yes, the musical—though the ghosts and zombies don’t sing)—with a naughty dash of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe.” —No kidding!
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