Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Zany Time with Zombies Monster Movie 'Paranorman' Mixes Dark Journey with Clever Comedy

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Zany Time with Zombies Monster Movie 'Paranorman' Mixes Dark Journey with Clever Comedy

Article excerpt

Norman's mother assures him that his late grandma is "in a better place now."

The boy, though, insists, "No, she's in the living room."

Minutes earlier, he and she were watching a zombie movie although only Norman can see her.

He is an 11-year-old ghost whisperer whose special skills have earned him the unwanted attention of a bully who scrawls "Freak" on his school locker. In "ParaNorman," he doesn't see all ghosts, just the ones of people who died suddenly or in a bad way or who have something to figure out or finish.

Even in a town called Blithe Hollow, which uses a 300-year-old witch hunt to market itself and to lure tourists, Norman is a misfit. In that regard, he's like his newfound pal Neil, whose weight is just one of the reasons he is a target.

Norman is confronted one day by his estranged eccentric Uncle Prenderghast -- or "the weird stinky old bum who lives up on the hill" as Neil describes him. He reveals that an ancient witch's curse is real, and it's up to Norman to save the town.

Soon, the boy whose hair naturally stands straight up, as if he had been frightened in an old horror movie, finds himself in the creepy company of zombies, and they're not just on the posters on his bedroom wall. It's a real night of the living dead with lessons about children who happen to be different or oddballs, through no fault of their own.

Norman's dad, for one, has little patience with his son who made a scene at school. "It's one thing being a mental case in front of the family," the father says, but another when it happens before the whole town.

When the boy says, "I didn't ask to be born this way," his father adds, "Neither did we." Ouch.

"ParaNorman," a stop-motion animated feature, is from the companies behind 2009's "Coraline." That title character was an 11- year-old who discovers a secret passageway in her new apartment that leads to a world where her "other" mother and father live. It seems perfect until the other parents reveal their true selves and want to replace Coraline's eyes with buttons. …

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