I saw Paranorman directly after work Friday at 5pm; I’ve been without internet so I’ve had to wait till now to let you guys know! But here is a little bit about me, a short review, and some fanart (and I hardly EVER do fanart) . Paranorman is tacked right up there as one of my all time favorite movies.
Life is funny to me; years ago- I was that young, strange child. 19 years ago, I was tossed (actually, I think my father rode me in on his Harley Davidson Motorcycle) into a typical suburban col-de-sac school because I was an army brat. My father was a retired vet turned gearhead, and my mother, with her gorgeous smile and ever loving demenor was along for the ride.
I spent a lot of time exersicing the facts of life that were instilled within me; they are listed as follows… Always be yourself, Do what comes naturally, Working hard will get you everything you desire in life, when you can not depend on others you must Teach yourself when there is no one to show you, and when all else fails make sure you put on a smile, bite the bullet, and make light hearted jokes while doing the above mentioned; these were the unspoken rules of the household and I insisted on practicing nothing but what I felt in my heart was true.
This, dear readers, made me weird.
I didn’t conform to the normal childhood standards- I wasn’t held back when something seemed unconventional or unobtainable; I just fought harder. I wore some weird clothes, sometimes even dressing up as Batman or Darkwing Duck. I loved drawing, comics, and books more than I loved other children (they never punched back)
That all being so… if a stranger would have approached me as a wild eyed, curly haired, eyepatch wearing child and told me that a decade from then, things would be amazing for me for doing what I felt in my heart was right and successfully living on my own off of just that- I would NEVER have believed them; probably because i’d had been too busy fighting the headache brought on by having my head shoved into a locker.
If someone WOULD have come to me I wish with all my heart they would have instilled the “stick with your gut” because I would most likely have my name somewhere in the credits for the very film I just spent the last 93 minutes balled up crying big sobby wet tears into the sleeves of my hoodie jacket because I am so utterly overwhelmed by traditional stop motion animation and the rigging, science, art, love and dedication that goes along with it.
I have been a fan of stopmotion since I was very little, crying, even then, because Nightmare before Christmas was so pretty- and how Wallace and Gromit made sure my sense of humor would be set for the rest of my life (making jokes about cheese on the moon didn’t win me any friends in school, either! WEIRD GIRL!) I have also unbeknownly been a fan of Laika entertainment my whole life- I mean, my whole life. I lived in Wisconsin before moving to Pennsylvania- I watched the California Raisins and loved the Noid commercials (forshadowing isn’t just for novels and movies!) which were created by the Laika before they were the Laika they are today.
Anyway- enough backstory, I want to express to you just how full I felt after watching this piece of art.
Paranorman, I have seen your stills, my friends have illustrated posters for your promotions, I have tasted that of your production and gone back for seconds, thirds, fourths, shared with friends and continued to gorge myself on the youtube videos of metal, foam and cloth transforming into an 11 year old boy- to zombies expertly mounting a horse (were those even around in colonial times? Boy those zombies do catch on FAST!) with my nose pressed up to my computer screen and the youtube quality being at its highest I anticipated your film even more than that of Coraline.
I personally have never seen a more perfect and beautifully exicuted film in my life. You guys really make my heart hurt for doubting the pure power stop motion animation has over the film industry (Modeled animation is impressive, but come on, it lacks the literal artists touch, and I should have known better while choosing my field) I will pay to see this film over and over again, and make sure none of my friends are without someone to bask in the eerie glow of this coming of age story. The humor was cheeky, even a bit edgy; I loved it. The beginning caught me off guard, as i noticed it was expertly lighted! Its funny how much engaging lighting really can make or break a film, and you guys got it right. I noticed creativity in the camera angles, making sure you showed off EVERY little ounce of handcrafted character as you could, right down to the shoes and just the amount of STUFF cluttered into the crazy uncle’s dilapidated house, just so you could show how much love and work was dedicated. The environments were far from sparce, as they laid host to dozens of pint sized reproduced handmade articles that even the most organized person would be embarrased hid in their basement or garage. The textures walked the line to give the most subtle reminder that, yes, this and that and everything else was done by hand. Nothing was lacking in the story; in fact i was expecting a more sappy zombie flick, and could never have foreseen what you threw in next. The story was fresh and as heart wrenching as the animation was stunning. I would like to point out that I was pleased to see you made steps in smoothing out your animation process. Coraline, while fantastic, had some little bits of drag in the animation; I personally found this distracting, but being a first fill length film done in this mannor, that was to be expected. What really intrigued me was you learned from those mistakes, and I commend you! Paranorman left me speechless during the entire film (well, to be honest, I couldn’t come up with words so I kind of babbled like a child to myself, but words just didn’t exist for all the feels I had) my eyes were glued to the screen.
Throwing in so many little nudges to cult horror flicks really got me giggling, gasping and wriggling around in my seat; these weren’t just pop culture nods within some subtext blurted out by the character, but well thought out and thoroughly researched bits that were injected into the film, such as subtext, color pallets, and visual ques; even body language. You made zombies fresh again, while still keeping it timeless. I would point out particulars but I have never been one for spoilers, but I will say the slackjawed lip zombie was probably my most favorite animated bit ever.
So THANK YOU Laika, for making stop motion the king of animation once more. A bit of my faith in humanity has been restored and you’ve really inspired me to dig back into myself. Thank you for giving me the kick I need to start creating armature puppets once more, its been too long and it feel so good. You guys are amazing. I’m not kidding, you really are. Be proud and enjoy it, this film is a briliantly shining example of always being yourself, Doing what comes naturally, Working hard to get everything you desired out of your project, working as a team to teach yourself when there is no one to show you, and putting on a smile, biting the bullet, and making light hearted jokes while doing the above mentioned until you have achieved something AMAZING.
Weird wins, it totally does!