Voice Cast:
Kodi Smit-McPhee as Norman
Tucker Albrizzi as Neil
Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Alvin
Anna Kendrick as Courtney
Casey Affleck as Mitch
Leslie Mann as Sandra Babcock
Jeff Garlin as Perry Babcock
John Goodman as Mr. Prenderghast
Bernard Hill as The Judge
Tempestt Bledsoe as Sheriff Hooper
Elaine Stritch as Grandma
Hannah Noyes as Salma
Jodelle Ferland as Aggie

Directed by Chris Butler and Sam Fell

Norman Babcock (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee) is an unusual kid who is able to see and communicate with the ghosts of Blythe Hollow, a small New England suburban town. 300 years earlier, the town came under the spell of a witch’s curse and his dead uncle, Mr. Prenderghast (voiced by John Goodman), tells Norman that only he can end that curse. Along with a gang of oddballs, including his best friend Neil (Tucker Albrizzi), his sister (Anna Kendrick), Neil’s older brother (Casey Affleck) and the school bully Alvin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), they set out to stop the zombies brought back to life by the curse.

This fall, we’re going to see how many family-friendly movies based on horror movie tropes can find an audience, and first out of the gate is a stop-motion animated movie from Portland’s LAIKA, the studio behind Henry Selick’s “Coraline.”

Helmed by a pair of Brits, Chris Butler–who also wrote the script–and Sam Fell (“Flushed Away”), “ParaNorman” may not have a single visionary on par with Selick, but it also doesn’t have the baggage of being adapted from a popular book, which means everyone involved is able to pull out the stops with ideas rather than being handcuffed by original source material. And you can tell that this is one of the reasons why “ParaNorman” works as well as it does.

The film is set-up rather slowly and innocuously in its introduction of Norman, a weird kid who is the outcast of his small town, not able to connect with anyone at school or even his own family. His crazy uncle Mr. Prendergrast sends him on a mission to end the curse of Blythe Hollow by reading from a book at the graveyard of the judge and jurors who executed a witch 300 years earlier, but instead he brings about their return as zombies.

If the movie focused solely on Norman, it probably wouldn’t have been nearly as fun, which is why it gets better as more characters are brought into the mix, whether it’s his weird friend Neil or others. The characters are fun and do a good job making you forget you’re watching animated puppets, and that’s as much to do with the voice acting talent as it does pairing these voices with the mannerisms of those puppets.

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