© Universal Pictures International Germany GmbH

U.S.A. 2012

Opening 23 Aug 2012

Directed by: Chris Butler
Writing credits: Chris Butler
Principal actors: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Leslie Mann, Elaine Stritch

Not even 3D is able to enhance this story with its old-as-Methuselah moral: “There’s nothing wrong with being scared, Norman, as long as you don’t let it change who you are”, Grandma tells Norman (Kodi Smit-McPhee, voice) early in the film. Norman, who sees and talks to ghosts, is considered a freak at school and in the community. But when the town is threatened by a centuries-old witch’s curse and overrun by zombies and ghouls, Norman heeds ghost-Granny’s (Elaine Stritch, voice) advice, gets unexpected support from his family, and helps one ghost recapture lost innocence.

Anna Kendrick / Courtney, Leslie Mann / Sandra Babcock, John Goodman / Mr. Prenderghast, Casey Affleck / Mitch, Jeff Garlin / Perry Babcock, Bernard Hill / The Judge, Christopher Mintz-Plasse / Alvin, Tucker Albrizzi / Neil, Hannah Noyes / Salma also provide voice talent. Chris Butler is responsible for the screenplay, and directs with Sam Fell. Some lines are funny, and production-wise no complaints, but the story is ho-hum and unpretentious stop-motion clay animation would have sufficed. ParaNorman might have had a much wider audience had it opened in October just prior to Halloween.

The industry is relentlessly pushing 3D down audiences’ throats – box office sales are down; next they plan to regurgitate 4D: Scent of a Mystery in 1960 used Smell-O-Vision, and specialty base speakers shook theaters during1974’s Earthquake. I do not like wearing the 3D headache-causing, non-sterile glasses (one [unwrapped] pair tested in the US was contaminated with Staphylococcus aureus that can cause skin infections, food poisoning, pinkeye, etc.) When will they get it? If the story is not there, the film does not work and audiences are not going to come, no matter how many expensive gimmicks they throw at us. (Marinell Haegelin)

The theaters below show films in their original language; click on the links for showtimes and ticket information.
Interviews with the stars, general film articles, and reports on press conferences and film festivals.
Subscribe to the free KinoCritics monthly email newsletter here.