Friday, August 31, 2012

Chris Butler and Sam Fell: ParaNorman

ParaNorman, Focus Features, 2012.

Under the tutelage of American animation maestro Henry Selick, Chris Butler, an immensely talented young storyboard artist on Burton's Corpse Bride and Selick's Coraline, realizes his own dreams with the best animated movie of the year thus far, the transporting ParaNorman.

Butler and co-director Sam Fell both cast a middle American town in the fractured clay fortitudes of Selick's style, and yet its markedly different, rougher if you will. Butler and fell construct a giant homage to the 1980s films they loved, especially The Goonies and The Monster Squad, with a touch of Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense thrown in for good measure. Yet it works fiercely on its own. So many little touches demand multiple viewings; the inexplicable beauty and emotion of it all are bewildering. We are not used to animated movies this heavy!

Norman is an outsider, a little boy mocked at school in his small New England town, because he can talk to ghosts. He builds a ragtag group of friends to battle a witch's curse on their village. This simple plot gives no hint at the pure pleasures of the world these talented directors have crafted; touching on themes of disaffected youth, technology as a death knell to human interaction, media blitz, childhood, death. ParaNorman is not your average kids flick, this one is an instant classic.

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