ParaNorman is a 2012 American 3D stop-motion animated comedy horror film produced by Laika, distributed by Focus Features and was released on August 17, 2012. It stars the voices of Kodi Smit-McPhee, Jodelle Ferland, Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin, Elaine Stritch, Bernard Hill, 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 mainly received positive reviews and 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 best friend, Neil Downe (Tucker Albrizzi), is an overweight boy who is bullied himself and finds in Norman a kindred spirit. During rehearsal of a school play commemorating the town's execution of a witch three centuries ago, Norman has a vision of the town's past in which he is pursued through the woods by townsfolk on a witch hunt. Afterward, the boys are confronted by Norman's 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 Perry (Jeff Garlin) grounding him. His mother Sandra (Leslie Mann) tells him that his father's stern manner is because he is afraid for him. The next day, Norman sees Prenderghast's spirit who tells him that the ritual must be performed with a certain book before sundown that day; then making him swear to complete the task, Prenderghast's spirit is set free and crosses over. 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, but finds that the book is merely a series of fairy tales. Alvin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), a school bully, arrives and prevents Norman from reading the story before sundown. Norman attempts to continue reading from the book, to no effect. A ghostly storm resembling the witch appears in the air, summoning the cursed dead to arise as zombies, who chase the boys along with Norman's 17-year-old sister, Courtney (Anna Kendrick) and Neil's older brother, Mitch (Casey Affleck) down the hill and into town. Having realized that the witch was not buried in the graveyard, 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, Norman and his companions break into the archives but cannot find the information they need. As the mob moves to attack Town Hall, the witch storm appears over the crowd. Norman climbs the Hall's tower to read the book, in a last-ditch effort to finish the ritual, but the witch strikes the book with lightning, hurling Norman from the tower and deep 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 realizes that Agatha was wrongfully convicted by the town council when they mistook her powers for witchcraft. After awakening, Norman encounters the zombies and recognizes them as the town council who convicted Agatha. The zombies admit that they only wanted to speak with him to ensure that he would take up the ritual, to minimize the damage of the mistake they made so long ago. Norman attempts to help the zombies slip away so they can guide him to Agatha's grave, but is cornered by the mob. Courtney, Mitch, Neil, and Alvin rally to Norman's side and confront the crowd, arguing that their rage, fear, and misunderstanding make them no different than the cursed townsfolk from long ago. Though the mob calms the witch unleashes her powers to create greater havoc throughout the town.
Judge Hopkins (Bernard Hill) guides Norman's family to the grave in a forest. Before the grave is reached, Agatha's magical powers separate Norman from the others. Norman finds the grave and interacts with Agatha's vengeful spirit, determined to stop the cataclysmic tantrum she has been having over the years. Though she attempts to push him away Norman holds his ground, telling her that he understands how she feels as an outcast, that her vengeance has only made her like the ones who wronged her, and eventually forcing her to remember happier days.
Having finally encountered someone who understands her plight, Agatha is able to find a measure of peace and cross over 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, who have grown to accept Norman for who he is.
LGBT Cast and Crew
- Cam Clarke (Additional Voices)