PARANORMAN (PG) (92 min)
Directed by Chris Butler and Sam Fell. Starring (voices) Kodi Smit-McPhee, Casey Affleck, Anna Kendrick.
Norman is 11. He can see dead people. In the small town where he lives with his vaguely functional parents and his wannabe-in-LA teen sister, Norman is a misfit. His closest friend is his lovely grandma. But she has been dead for years, and Norman's reports of his conversations with her aren't going over at all well with the rest of the family. At least, not until weird old uncle Mr Prenderghast shows up to tell Norman that he is the town's only chance to avert the dreadful witch's curse that has been threatening to show up for three centuries.
From the studio that produced the excellent Coraline, ParaNorman is a stop-motion treat. This is a beautiful film to look at and to get lost in. The story telling is fast-paced and inventive, the dialogue is truly witty, and the characters break out into interesting and not-too-expected directions. My only question is: will the kids like it? Like Coraline, it's too intense for the under-7s, and maybe too silly for the over-12s. But for this happy old scribbler, muttering ''wow'' under my breath for pretty much the entire last 10 minutes, ParaNorman is one of the best western animations in years.
- The Dominion Post