Review: Paranorman

The TL;DR version of this review: The animation, from Portland’s LAIKA studios is something special, and I really wanted to like it. I did not like it.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: There’s this little kid, and he can see dead people. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “This kid, he’s probably well adjusted and super popular with his peers, am I right? A hit with all the ladies?”

No! Believe it or not, he’s kind of an outcast! A social pariah, you might even say! Okay, now I don’t want to spoil anything, but the twist? This social handicap of his might turn out to save the day in the end. It sounds crazy, right? I know, but it’s true!

That, unfortunately, is the recycling-bin plot the talented animators at LAIKA have saddled themselves with on ParaNorman. It doesn’t get any better in the telling, and actually probably gets worse, with a story involving a town cursed when their forebears burned an innocent little girl as a witch (yeesh, dark much?) and a climax so preachy, touchy-feely and drawn out that it plays like Chopra for kids. It’s a shame, because the animation is so finely crafted and obviously painstaking that not loving it makes you feel like a real poopface. Imagine your niece spent all day baking you cookies and you have to tell her they’re crappy.

[Read the rest at the Portland Mercury]