VIDEO: ParaNorman (2012)

Part One:

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Part Two:

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It’s a Cartoon Palooza Slider, where Joey takes more in-depth looks at movies. In the first edition, it’s ParaNorman, one of Joey’s favorite animated films of the year. A small town is attacked by zombies, and their only hope is a misunderstood local boy named Norman who can talk to the dead.

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  • Liz

    This is great. I have to check this movie out now. I can’t wait for Part 2.

    • Joseph Tedesco

      Thank you! It’s up now for your viewing pleasure 😀

  • Muthsarah

    Hey Joey.  I got a lot to say about this one, so I’m not even gonna bother arranging my thoughts, just gonna shoot ’em all out, and you can respond to any or all:

    1. Regarding the long history of stop-motion animation, have you seen “The Cameraman’s Revenge”?  It’s one of the most trippy, original (as in different) stop motion films I’ve seen.  And it was made 101 years ago, in Tzarist Russia!  It’s 12 minutes long and on YouTube if you’re curious.

    2. I saw this movie on opening day, in 3D.  I liked it, but when making up my year-end Top Everything list, it still ended up on the bottom (not a knock against Paranorman, as I liked every movie I saw this year).  However, I got the impression by watching/listening to Count Jackula, MovieBob, and Brad Jones, that there were a LOT of classic horror references that I missed, which clearly led to them all enjoying the movie a lot more than I did.  Were there particular films, other than Halloween and Shaun of the Dead (which doesn’t really count) that were referenced in this movie?  I felt like I wasn’t part of the creators’ target audience.  It was good, but it felt like it was made by horror aficionados for horror aficionados, and that kids were invited along for the ride as a necessary business concession.  Are you really up on your classic horror, and do you think that alone could have made the difference between you loving the film and me only liking it, but feeling like I was missing something?  Were there THAT many references in it?

    I plan to see this movie again pretty soon.  Is there anything you think I should know, or movies you think I should see ahead of time, to get the full enjoyment out of it?  I was really impressed with the film, and I’m automatically in love with any movie I see that was made with a niche audience in mind, even if I don’t understand it, just because I love the idea of movies like that being made.  So I really want to give the movie another try, this time approaching it as I suspect its creators would hope their audience would.

    3. Agatha WAS the story for me.  I was underwhelmed by the first 3/4 of the film (prolly cuz I missed so many genre references), but when we got to her story, I became riveted.  I wanted the movie to spend more time in 1690s Salem, to focus so much more on what she must have been going through, to explain exactly what was going on with her.  It suggested that she was actually a witch, which…well…would kinda justify the actions of her murderers.  The whole point of the Salem Witch Trial tragedy is that we today all accept that there are no such thing as witches, so anyone that died was senselessly murdered over nothing.  But if Agatha actually was a witch…well…it still feels sad to kill her, but that would also suggest that the charges the village was laying against her MAY have been true….

    You say you were really happy with how they handled that, and I get that.  I’m pleased you felt like pointing that out as one of the film’s biggest strengths.  But…urgh…I wanted SO MUCH MORE!  It wasn’t dark enough!  I wanted more Puritan inquisition!  I wanted a much stronger tie to be drawn between Agatha and Norman, to establish that, maybe, she was in the exact same place as a social outcast, purely because she has a gift that could be used for good, if only the adults around her would accept that.  Wasn’t there only five minutes or so on that?  Do you think that it was possible, and reasonable, for the filmmakers to expand on this point, or do you think we were lucky to get as much as we got, and that there was either no more room to expand on this part of the movie, or that expanding would have hurt the rest of it (with the references), or that it couldn’t have been expanded on without getting too dark for the kids?

    Just trying to reconcile my favorite part of the film feeling too short with the rest of the movie being good but still feeling like I was missing something, and that, maybe, that one part being expanded was what held me back from really loving the film, regardless of the missed references.  I just became so fixated on that part, feeling like they COULD and SHOULD have done more.  Or do you think that wasn’t realistic, or even desirable?

    4. Your audio gets a lil’ garbled 3:00 into your second part.  Just sayin’, in case…something.

    5. Have you, by any chance, played a SNES/Genesis game called “Zombies Ate My Neighbors”?  It also wallows in classic horror references, and is a pretty fun and very difficult game to boot.  I couldn’t stop thinking about that when watching this movie.

    6. Christmas Story also failed at the box office.  The good ones frequently do.  And no, that isn’t fair.  But who says life is fair?  Where’s that written?  To quote another wonderful box office failure.  Paranorman actually did a lot better than I would expect a film like this would.  A small victory, even if it was sadly overshadowed by the bad kind of schlock. Not that I expect Hollywood to follow up on this. I sure hope Laika is still doing okay enough to keep doing what they’re doing….

    • Joseph Tedesco

      Sorry for the late response. I am back from MAGfest, and I wanted to
      make sure I read this comment thoroughly. I even numbered each response
      accordingly to how you had yours! 

      1) Like I mentioned before, Stop-motion
      features (at about an hour and a half) haven’t been made as popular until “The
      Nightmare before Christmas.” However they were more popular in other areas of
      the world. I might have to check that one out!

      2) Actually, I would have to agree that
      being a lover of animation or horror would determine your overall enjoyment of the
      film. I found that a lot of critics would complain about the pacing, which I
      found would have been cut down if there weren’t so many horror references.
      Probably why I wasn’t bummed about the pacing. I tell people that as funny as
      the scene where Norman wrestles his dead uncle for the book that it could have
      been cut out and it wouldn’t make too big of a difference. But then it would
      leave out the neat atmosphere building up to Norman finding the dead uncle
      (which I believe has a reference to Amityville Horror with the moths flying out
      of the teddy bear); as well as the wonderful animated bit of slapstick which is
      really a marvel from a technical standpoint… I take that back, EVERYTHING was
      an amazing feat from a technical standpoint.

      I agree is a
      standout film for a certain audience (myself included). I’m just satisfied with the
      animated films that came out this year, and it’s understandable if one person
      prefers one film over another. I hear a lot of praise for “Wreck it Ralph” and
      “Frankenweenie,” which to me is in place for a second and third favorite
      animated film spot; and I can agree with what people found great about it.

      3) I agree that the film’s strength comes
      when we’re introduced to Agatha. One thing I mentioned in my vlog instead of here
      was that there’s a sense that the film doesn’t have a traditional villain; and
      that it’s easy to argue that everybody has a mean or ignorant quality to them.
      This to me defines people versus what most animated films do, which is give us
      a black and white good versus evil deal. Even Norman was partially a dick to
      others but struggles like most middle school kids to have balance. Agatha is a
      perfect example (and traditional when considering characters like Darth Vader)
      of what Norman could become though more subtle than most characters. I still
      stand that she’s the most tragic characters from the movies I saw during 2012.

      4) I was satisfied for what it was,
      however with the budget and box office numbers, I doubt that there would be
      room for more movies, spinoffs or specials. I would love to revisit these
      characters again. As far as the film and how dark it was, I thought it struck a
      good balance between becoming a movie that the general audience can enjoy
      versus something going into Bashki territory. As much as I would love to see if
      the film did cross that line, I was entertained nonetheless.

      5) That’s fine! Honestly, I’ve been
      experimenting with different ways of recording audio. I may be going back to an
      external mic or making the investment for a shotgun mic to attach to my camera.
      Either way, sound and writing has been my biggest concerns as far as
      video-making has been going!

      6) Lol, I’m not a gamer; and as far as
      “classic” games go i’m a big Playstation 1 fan! xD

      7) I agree! I wouldn’t want to see them suffer the same fate as
      Imagi studios (the guys who produced “TMNT” and “Astro Boy”). Let’s see if they
      can get some more good movies off the ground J!

        

  • Thomas Stockel

    Great stuff, Joey!  Well, from what I saw: I had to stop halfway through both parts to avoid more spoilers. But I will try and check out your vlog.

    • Joseph Tedesco

      I know! I’ve come to realize that i’m a massive spoiler when it comes to movies. It’s always been my mentality that the important plot points realized in advance don’t tarnish my enjoyment of movies… even mysteries! 

  • The Nightmare Rider

    The biggest thing that prevented me from putting this film on my top 10 of the year was simply the vast majority of the cast were PAINFULLY cliché, only getting some very minor forced development right at the end of the film. Even in many situations where they should start to change their behaviour due to events right infront of their face, they are shoved right back into their character archetypes when they really should have been developed.
    That said, it’s still an amazing film for all the reasons you mentioned. And for a huge fan of stop motion animation like me (someone who grew up watching Wallace and Gromit), it’s simply unmissable!

    • Joseph Tedesco

      I may have been more accepting since as far as animated films this year go, I found most of the characters easy to relate to.