The movie is about finding yourself and being more tolerant towards people that are different in opinion or appearance than you. Great messages that have been done a dozen time before, but there is nothing wrong with that. The film is also an homage and parody to classic horror movies. From making fun of their structure to embracing it for laughs, the movie does a great job of being original while not forgetting its roots.
"Paranorman" is very well directed. It is a stable for stop-motion films and what is possible with the medium. From impressive camera angles and shots to the fluidity of motion on the character, I almost thought I was watching a CGI film. The directors also do a great job of throwing you a curve ball. Right when you think were the movie is headed something happens and it is a pleasant surprise keeping you on your toes. The film starts off slow, but gradually gets better and it concludes with an epic ending, filled with great animation, effects, and music Writing is fairly strong, some of the jokes don't work, but they are far and in between.
Characters are mostly archetypes of characters that have been done before. However, they are still funny and charming throughout the film. Norman is the main character, who has a hard time fitting in. However we can relate to him, but he has this annoying character trait about him that can me grating. He seems isolate himself so much that even when someone wants to be his friend, he pushes them away. Neil is Norman's friend and the comic relief of the films, however he does bring some heart to the table. Courtney is Normans sister and the typical valley girl, who only thinks about being popular and guys. She's good, but not one of the more memorable characters. Alvin is the bully, he has his moments. Mitch is Neil's brother and probably the most hilarious part of the movie. The zombies are funny too, but don't have a unique personality. Overall the characters are good and fill in their archetypes well, while still bringing some original personality.
Animation is gorgeous in this film. Each character moves so fluidly, it felt as if I was watching a CGI film. The overall look of the film is charming and brings back some nostalgia. The musical score is great. Starts of very subtle, but is amazing near the end with the visual effects. This film is a stable in terms of its animation for stop-motion films.
Overall "Paranorman" is a fantastic movie, the best animated movie of the year and in my opinion the best stop-motion movie I've ever seen. Sure the characters and the story are sort of generic, but the directors know how to through a curve ball into the mix and keep the audience on their toes. The conclusion is brilliant and I love how they throw in something new for a character in the end. I give it a 4.5/5, fantastic animation, surprising twists, and great musical score.