November 13, 2018

Posted August 20, 2012 by Ed Goldberg

Directors: Chris Butler, Sam Fell
Voices of: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Leslie Mann, Jeff, Elaine Stritch

This beautiful, stop-motion animated film was created here in Portland by Laika Studios, so you want to root for the home team. I really liked their previous film, Coraline, but this one is not as well written. Another scary movie, for its intended audience of pre-teens. But, the secret of a film like this is to have something going for an older crowd as well, and that’s where it is weak. Eleven-year-old Norman (Smit-McPhee) is a kind of outcast in his town because it is well-known that he claims not only to see dead people, but to speak with them. His family tolerates his quirk until it begins to disrupt their lives. But, they live in a town with a history of persecuting witches, and therein hangs the plot. He has a friend, Neil (Albrizzi), another unpopular kid, and a bully/tormentor, Alvin (Mintz-Plasse), who makes his life hell. Norman’s outcast uncle dies, and the boy learns that he is one of a long line of protectors of the town, because of an old curse. So, when the dead rise from the graves, Norman suddenly becomes the town’s only hope. As well-made as it is, the jokes are old and tired (unless you’re nine years old), the action sit-com, and the ending easy to predict (unless you’re nine years old). It wouldn’t hurt to take a kid to this movie, if scary stuff is not a problem. It’s just not quite there (unless you’re nine years old).

Ed Goldberg