Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Sam Fell
|Produced by||Travis Knight
|Screenplay by||Chris Butler|
|Story by||Arianne Sutner
|Music by||Jon Brion|
|Edited by||Christopher Murrie|
|Distributed by||Focus Features|
ParaNorman is a 2012 American 3D stop-motion animated horror comedy film produced by Laika, distributed by Focus Features and was released on August 17, 2012. It stars the voices of Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin, Elaine Stritch, Bernard Hill, Jodelle Ferland, Tempestt Bledsoe, Alex Borstein and John Goodman. It is the first stop-motion film to use a 3D color printer to create character faces and only the second to be shot in 3D.
The film received a largely positive critical response, while it was a modest box office success, earning $107 million against its budget of $60 million. The film received nominations for the 2012 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and BAFTA Award for Best Animated Film.
In the small town of Blithe Hollow, Massachusetts, Norman Babcock (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is an 11-year-old boy who speaks with the dead, including his late grandmother (Elaine Stritch) and various ghosts in town. Almost no one believes him and he is isolated emotionally from his family while being ridiculed by his peers. His friend, Neil Downe (Tucker Albrizzi), is an overweight boy who is bullied himself and finds Norman a kindred spirit. During rehearsal of a school play commemorating the town's witch execution of three centuries ago, Norman has a vision of the town's past and being pursued as a witch by the town's citizenry. Afterward, the boys are confronted by his estranged and seemingly deranged uncle Mr. Prenderghast (John Goodman) who tells his nephew that he soon must take up his regular ritual to protect the town. Soon after this encounter, Prenderghast dies from a sudden stroke.
During the official performance of the school play Norman has another vision, creating a public spectacle of himself which leads to his father (Jeff Garlin) grounding him. His mother (Leslie Mann) tells him that his father's stern manner is because he is afraid for him. The next day, Norman sees Prenderghast's ghost who tells him that the ritual must be performed with a certain book before sundown that day. Norman is at first reluctant to go because he is scared but his grandmother tells him it is all right to be scared as long as he does not let it change who he is. Norman sets off to retrieve the book from Prenderghast's house (having to take it from his corpse). He then goes to the graves of the five men and two women who were cursed by the witch they condemned, but finds the book is merely a series of fairy tales. Alvin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), a school bully, interferes with the reading until after sundown. A ghostly storm resembling the witch appears in the air while the cursed dead zombies arise, chases and pursue the boys along with Norman's sister, Courtney (Anna Kendrick) and Neil's older brother, Mitch (Casey Affleck) in the van into town, but Norman contacts classmate Salma (who tells them to access the Town Hall's archives for the location of the witch's unmarked grave) for help. As the kids make their way to the Town Hall, the zombies are attacked by the citizenry. During the riot, they break into the archives but cannot find the information they need. As the mob moves to attack Town Hall, the witch storm appears and Norman climbs the Hall's tower to read the book, but the witch strikes it with lightning and causes him to fall back down into the archives.
Unconscious, Norman has a dream where he learns that the witch was Agatha Prenderghast (Jodelle Ferland), a little girl of his age who was also a medium. Norman also learns that Agatha was wrongfully convicted by the town council after they mistook her powers as witchcraft. After awakening, Norman encounters the zombies and realizes that they were the same town council who convicted Agatha. The zombies then admit that they only wanted to speak with him to ensure he would take up the ritual to minimize the harm of the mistake they made towards Agatha. Norman attempts to help the zombies slip away to have them guide him to Agatha's grave, but are cornered by the mob. Courtney confronts the crowd and convinces them to back off. Judge Hopkins (Bernard Hill) guides Norman's family to the grave in a forest. Before the grave is reached, Agatha's magic separates Norman from the others. Norman finds the grave and interacts with Agatha in the spirit dimension, determined to stop the cataclysmic tantrum she had been having over the years. She asks him to leave her be, but Norman holds his ground, telling her he understands how she feels as an outcast. Norman endures her assault and eventually convinces her that her vengeance is accomplishing nothing and persuades her to stop. Norman tells her that there must have been someone who was kind to her. Agatha recalls happy memories with her mother. She is able to find a measure of peace and move on to the afterlife. The storm dissipates, and she and the zombies all fade away. The town cleans up and regards Norman as a hero. In the end, Norman watches a horror film with the ghost of his grandmother and his family.
- Kodi Smit-McPhee as Norman Babcock, an 11-year-old outcast kid who speaks to the dead
- Jodelle Ferland as Agatha "Aggie" Prenderghast, a Puritan girl who lived in the 1700s.
- Tucker Albrizzi as Neil Downe, Norman's eccentric and chubby friend
- Anna Kendrick as Courtney Babcock, Norman's 17 year old sister and cheerleader
- Casey Affleck as Mitch Downe, Neil's 18 year old brother and a jock; the target of Courtney's affections.
- Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Alvin, a 13 year old school bully
- Leslie Mann as Sandra Babcock, Norman's mother
- Jeff Garlin as Perry Babcock, Norman's father
- Elaine Stritch as Grandma Babcock, Norman's ghost grandmother
- Bernard Hill as Judge Hopkins, the leader of the zombies
- John Goodman as Mr. Prenderghast, Norman's uncle and the town's local lunatic
- Tempestt Bledsoe as Sheriff Hooper, a police officer
- Hannah Noyes as Salma, a smart girl from Norman's class
- Ariel Winter as Blithe Hollow kid
- Bridget Hoffman as Crystal and Parachutist Ghost
- Scott Menville as Deputy Wayne
- David Cowgill as Greaser Ghost
- Wendy Hoffman as Gucci Lady
- Alex Borstein as Mrs. Henscher, Norman's teacher
- Jeremy Shada as Pug
- Emily Hahn as Sweet Girl
- Kirk Baily, Cam Clarke, Lara Cody, Eddie Frierson, Rif Hutton, Edie Mirman and David Zyler as Blithe Hollow townspeople
Production of the stop-motion animation feature took place at Laika's studio in Hillsboro, Oregon. The film was in production for three years with the animating stage of production lasting about two years, beginning in late 2009. Rather than using traditional 3D format cameras, the studio used sixty Canon EOS 5D Mark II DSLR cameras to film the movie. Ad agency Wieden+Kennedy created the advertising campaign for the film. ParaNorman is the first ever stop motion film to utilize full-color 3D printers for replacement animation, after Coraline pioneered and popularized the use of black and white 3D printers, which sped up puppet production considerably and allowed the team to make the large number of puppet faces required for the film.
Bits of other music appear in the film, including theme music from Halloween, the Donovan song "Season of the Witch" (sung by the school play cast) and "Fix Up, Look Sharp" by British rapper Dizzee Rascal. "Little Ghost", a White Stripes song from their 2005 album Get Behind Me Satan, plays at the end, over character cards identifying the main cast.
However, one track in the film (an updated version of "Aggi Fights") was not included in the soundtrack.
ParaNorman was released on DVD and Blu-ray, on November 27, 2012.
ParaNorman has received a largely positive critical response. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 87% of critics have given the film positive reviews, with a rating average of 7.3/10 based on 160 reviews. The consensus statement reads, "Beautifully animated and solidly scripted, ParaNorman will entertain (and frighten) older children while providing surprisingly thoughtful fare for their parents." Another review aggregator, Metacritic, calculated a score of 73 based on 30 reviews, or "Generally favorable reviews." Justin Chang of Variety reviewed the film: "Few movies so taken with death have felt so rudely alive as ParaNorman, the latest handcrafted marvel from the stop-motion artists at Laika." On the other hand, Michael Rechtshaffen of The Hollywood Reporter said: "It has its entertaining moments, but this paranormal stop-motion animated comedy-chiller cries out for more activity."
ParaNorman earned $56,003,051 in North America, and $51,136,348 in other countries, for a worldwide total of $107,139,399. The film was first premiered in Mexico on August 3, 2012 opening in second place with box office receipts of $2.2 million, behind The Dark Knight Rises. For its opening weekend in North America, the film placed third with receipts of $14 million behind The Expendables 2 and The Bourne Legacy. Travis Knight, head of the studio that produced the film, believed the box office total was fine, but that it did not live up to his expectations.
The film has drawn some attention for the revelation in its final scenes that Mitch is gay, making him the first openly gay character in a mainstream animated film. Nancy French of the National Review Online suggested that the film could lead parents "to answer unwanted questions about sex and homosexuality on the way home from the movie theater". Conversely, Mike Ryan of The Huffington Post cited Mitch's inclusion as one of the reasons why ParaNorman is "remarkable". Co-director Chris Butler said that the character was explicitly connected with the film's message: "If we're saying to anyone that watches this movie don't judge other people, then we've got to have the strength of our convictions." In 2013 GLAAD nominated ParaNorman as its first-ever PG-rated movie for its annual GLAAD Media Awards.
|Academy Awards||Best Animated Feature||Sam Fell, Chris Butler||Nominated|
|Alliance of Women Film Journalists||Best Animated Film||Won|
|Annie Awards||Best Animated Feature||Nominated|
|Directing in an Animated Feature Production||Sam Fell, Chris Butler||Nominated|
|Animated Effects in an Animated Production||Andrew Nawrot, Joe Gorski, Grant Lake||Nominated|
|Character Animation in a Feature Production||Travis Knight||Won|
|Character Design in an Animated Feature Production||Heidi Smith||Won|
|Production Design in an Animated Feature Production||Nelson Lowry, Ross Stewart, Pete Oswald, Ean McNamara, Trevor Dalmer||Nominated|
|Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production||Emmanuela Cozzi||Nominated|
|Writing in an Animated Feature Production||Chris Butler||Nominated|
|BAFTA Awards||Best Animated Film||Nominated|
|Chicago Film Critics Association||Best Animated Feature||Won|
|Critics Choice Awards||Best Animated Feature||Nominated|
|Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association||Best Animated Film||Won|
|Denver Film Critics Society||Best Animated Feature||Won|
|Houston Film Critics Society||Best Animated Film||Nominated|
|Indiana Film Critics Association||Best Animated Feature||Nominated|
|Las Vegas Film Critics Society||Best Animated Film||Won|
|New York Film Critics Circle Awards||Best Animated Feature||Nominated|
|Online Film Critics Society||Best Animated Feature||Won|
|Phoenix Film Critics Society||Best Animated Film||Nominated|
|Producers Guild of America||Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures||Travis Knight, Arianne Sutner||Nominated|
|San Diego Film Critics Society||Best Animated Film||Won|
|San Francisco Film Critics Circle||Best Animated Feature||Won|
|Satellite Awards||Motion Picture, Animated or Mixed Media||Nominated|
|Saturn Awards||Best Animated Film||Sam Fell and Chris Butler||Nominated|
|Southeastern Film Critics Association||Best Animated Film||Won|
|St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association||Best Animated Film||Nominated|
|Toronto Film Critics Association Awards||Best Animated Feature||Won|
|Utah Film Critics Association||Best Animated Feature||Won|
|Visual Effects Society||Outstanding Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture||Chris Butler, Sam Fell, Travis Knight, Brad Schiff||Nominated|
|Outstanding Created Environment in an Animated Feature Motion Picture||Graveyard: Phil Brotherton, Robert Desue, Oliver Jones, Nick Mariana||Nominated|
|Main Street: Alice Bird, Matt Delue, Caitlin Pashalek||Nominated|
|Outstanding FX and Simulation Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture||Practical Volumetrics: Aidan Fraser, Joe Gorski, Eric Kuehne, Andrew Nawrot||Nominated|
|Angry Aggie Ink-Blot Electricity: Michael Cordova, Grant Laker, Susanna Luck, Peter Vickery||Nominated|
|Washington D. C. Area Film Critics Association||Best Animated Feature||Won|
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Norman Babcock is an 11-year-old branded a freak because he can speak to the dead.
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- Ryan, Mike (August 13, 2012). "'ParaNorman': The Movie You May Not Be Planning To See, Though You Should". The Huffington Post.
- "The Film Strip: ParaNorman Says You Can be Weird but Bullying is Not Ok.". Eurweb.com. Retrieved January 7, 2013.
- "'ParaNorman' Named First Ever PG-Rated Nominee for GLAAD Media Awards". January 16, 2013.
- "Annie Award Nominations Unveiled". Deadline. December 3, 2012. Retrieved December 3, 2012.
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- ParaNorman DVD & Blu-ray at Universal Studios Home Entertainment
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