September 17, 2012

Movie: ParaNorman (2012)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 8:55 pm

This movie has everything going for it. Critics rave about this, the viewers like it, it is a box office hit – but why does it feel that the movie is a teeny tiny bit hollow?

Maybe it is just me. I did like a lot of the movie. Some of the scenes are very funny. It is just that some of the characters are a bit wooden and the initial scenes are a bit slipshod. The movie does take off after a while but the initial scenes mean that it takes a bit of getting over the initial impression that this movie could be just so-so; and though at the end I did admit that the movie is good, it did not elevate it to the “unadulterated great fun” category that some movies belong to. (A classic example of this is How to Train Your Dragon)

The movie is about a boy, Norman Babcock who is considered Freak by everyone else because he acts totally weird, talking to empty air and pausing to give way to or pat someone or something that is not there. How we learn the reason for this odd behaviour itself is interesting, even if this has been done in many movies, including the Sixth Sense and A Beautiful Mind. He is talking to his grandma calmly one instant and only when his father exclaims “Norman, she has been dead a while ago!” that you realize that he is seeing and talking to a dead person. He has that ability which wins him the mnemonic of “Freak” and total isolation in school. When he gains the enmity of the school’s worst bully (Alvin) you really feel sorry for him.

Turns out that he was right. His uncle (the hilarious John Goodman as Mr Prendergast) tracks him down against the wish of his family to tell him that he (the uncle) has a secret, Norman brushes him off because his family has forbidden him to talk to his uncle. But after the uncle dies, he comes back to convince Norman to read a bedtime story to an evil witch to “put her to sleep so that you can save the world one more year” – No I am not kidding – Norman’s goal is to save the community.

With the help of the only boy (who is also bullied because he is fat) whom he considers his friend (Neil) he decided to save the town. But is he too late? There are zombies prowling the city, seemingly creating havoc – throwing the crowd to a frenzy.

The movie has its funny bits, not the least how Norman’s sister, the blond bimbo Courtney changes her tune on Norman and turns the affectionate sister the moment she eyes the hunk of a brother (Mitch) that Neil has, and also how it ends.

The storytelling technique, though old as described above, still works. The same way we find about Norman’s unique gift, you also find out about the zombies and what they are. The bully, Alvin, is great too, especially when he chases Norman to teach him a lesson.

The only thing that falls flat is the characterization of Norman’s parents, and their conversations with Norman and Courtney.

I still would give it a 7/10 for its entertainment value.

— Krishna



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