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The creep-tastic PARANORMAN is Capone's favorite animated film of the year so far!!!

Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here.

The latest stop-motion animated film to hit screens is almost too easy to review. It's about a boy who grows up watching horror movies, can see and talk to the dead, and is his school's primary outcast as a result. If you can identify with even one of those things, PARANORMAN is going to have you doing a little happy dance as you leave the theater.

Sure, there are messages about being kind to people with special gifts, instead of ostracizing or bullying them, but really Norman Babcock (voiced by LET ME IN's Kodi Smit-McPhee) is a kid who digs scary movies, and his parents (Jeff Garlin and Leslie Mann) seem OK with that because at least they consider that somewhat more normal behavior than Norman's other interest -- talking to his dead grandmother (Elaine Stritch), who often joins him on the couch to watch said films. No one else can see her or the dozens of other ghosts Norman chats with on a daily basis, often on his way to school. They are certainly nicer to him than his teenage sister Courtney (Anna Kendrick) or the school bully Alvin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse).

The town Norman lives in seems to base its entire year around celebrating some witch hunt/killing that went on several hundred years earlier. But Norman finds out when his creepy Uncle Prenderghast (John Goodman) dies that his family has played a role in keeping the witch from returning and taking revenge on the town, a role that Norman has now inherited. Enlisting his friend Neil (Tucker Albrizzi), Courtney and her would-be boyfriend and resident dumb jock Mitch (Casey Affleck), they try to figure out not only how to stop the witch from returning but also how to break the curse that keeps her wanting to destroy the town in the first place.

The detail to the visuals in PARANORMAN are almost too perfect and awe-inspiring to really take in with one viewing. But let me make this very clear: despite this being an animated work, there are some kids that are going to be very disturbed by the sight of zombies and other scary creatures in this movie. If your child is into creepy stuff, he or she will probably get a huge kick out of this movie. But if they scare or are otherwise freaked out easily, you may want to hold off. In other words, be a responsible parent, get to know your kid's interests, and make a wise decision. That being said, if your kid does like this movie, you're raising them right.

Co-directors Chris Butler (a storyboard artist on CORALINE and CORPSE BRIDE, who also wrote the film) and FLUSHED AWAY director Sam Fell have done an extraordinary job capturing the nuances of a child who is into horror movies (the design of Norman's room is glorious) and the trepidation a kid who sees dead people (and animals) might radiate on a daily basis. Norman is not a standard-issue hero type; he's shy, doesn't trust a lot of people, and is tired of people not believing that he sees what he sees.

But when Norman does get to use his abilities to shine (in a sequence featuring the zombies of the judges, led by Bernard Hill, who declared a young girl a witch all those centuries ago), he's an admirable hero who uses his role as an outcast to save the day. The moment may actually bring a tear to your eye. PARANORMAN is an original, lively, beautifully realized work of mild horror that might just be my favorite animated film of the year so far.

-- Steve Prokopy
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