A bare spec­tre of a sto­ry­line

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES -

HERE’S a tricky line in­volved in mak­ing scary an­i­mated movies.

If they’re car­toon­ish enough for young movie­go­ers, they of­ten lack the edge to sat­isfy older view­ers. If they’re too scary, they risk giv­ing young view­ers night­mares.

Para­Nor­man tries to serve both sides and in the process comes up short on both counts.

Norman (voiced by Kodi SmitMcPhee) can see dead peo­ple.

Most of the time he keeps it a se­cret but that changes when a group of zom­bies threat­ens the city and Norman in­her­its the job of city pro­tec­tor.

Direc­tors Chris But­ler and Sam Fell have crafted a tale with the driv­ing theme that it’s OK to be dif­fer­ent – some­thing the film achieves with its look and de­sign. Com­puter-gen­er­ated an­i­ma­tion is now the norm in features, but Para­Nor­man bucks that trend by us­ing tra­di­tional stop an­i­ma­tion, where small fig­ures are posed, pho­tographed and moved a small amount to cre­ate the il­lu­sion of move­ment. There’s some­thing about this hands-on ap­proach that makes it eas­ier to be drawn into the film’s world.

But once drawn in, the story is rather thin. The film­mak­ers rely on ex­ces­sively long ac­tion se­quences to fill time.

The voice cast­ing is solid but not mem­o­rable. Of the chat­ter­ing tal­ents – in­clud­ing Anna Ken­drick, Casey Af­fleck, John Good­man, Jeff Gar­lin and Christo­pher Mintz-Plasse – only Mintz-Plasse makes his char­ac­ter sound dif­fer­ent. The rest end up a generic ver­bal stew.

Para­Nor­man is in­deed a vis­ual feast. The crafts­man­ship is spec­tac­u­lar and the look amaz­ing but it’s hard to imag­ine who will en­joy this film. It’s way too scary for lit­tle kids but not scary enough for teens.

It looks good but comes up short on sub­stance.

opens to­day.

Kodi Smit-McPhee (in­set) voices Norman (above) in

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