Focus Features and Laika Entertainment present a 93 minute, PG, 3D animated, adventure, comedy with a touch of whimsical horror directed by Chris Butler, Sam Fell and written by Butler with a theater release date of August 17, 2012.
The story starts off with a throw back to old school horror films as Norman (voice of Kodi Smit-McPhee) and his Grandma (voice of Elaine Stritch) are watching zombies on television in the living room. Norman is not quite your typical young boy, well; he sees and talks to dead people. Ghosts that only he can see that have not quite passed on from this world for one reason or another. So of course the small town of citizens all think he’s a bit strange and as for his classmates, they think he’s a freak. All except Neil (voice of Tucker Albrizzi) who happens to think Norman could be a best friend. Mainly because Neil is referred to as ‘fatty’ by Alvin (voice of Christopher Mintz-Plasse) the school bully and his group of goonies at Blithe Middle School. Differences aside Norman and Neil begin to hang out and one day after school go home together to play with Neil’s dead dog.
It’s the 300th Anniversary of ‘The Blithe Hollow Witch’ and the kids under the watchful eye of Mrs. Henscher (voice of Alex Borstein) have decided to put on a school play to honor the event. Lurking in the shadows though is the old filthy man, Mr. Prenderghast (voice of John Goodman) who happens to have a liking for Norman mainly because he knows his secret and needs him to perform a service in order to protect the town from the dead. One problem, death comes knocking too soon, leaving Norman to figure things out on his own before the curse of the evil witch destroys his entire town.
One book, seven victims, one angry witch and Norman is on the run for his life although not alone. Courtney (voice of Anna Kendrick) his sister, Alvin, Neil and his buff brother Mitch (voice of Casey Affleck) are now on Norman’s side and out to help him end the curse, banish the zombie victims and once and for all put the curse of the witch to sleep forever. Albeit many things are not quite as they appeared as Norman begins to unravel the history of the witch Aggie (voice of Jodelle Ferland) and the reasons for her attack on the town. In the end, fear can often bring out the worst in people yet fairy tales have a way of soothing a child’s mind and imagination. All in all making Norman the talk of the town and the proud son of Sandra (voice of Leslie Mann) and Perry Babcock (voice of Jeff Garlin).
The film is very inventive and moves along quite well bringing laughs at one moment and sudden scary moments causing my six and half year old movie guest, Haley, to hide her face in fear. Even though it’s animation the story of course like most these day’s plays well to children as well as adults. If you watch the movie closely and you are familiar with many other horror films like “Halloween” or “Friday the 13th” just to name two, you will enjoy many references to old well known scary flicks from the past. I do like the way the writer works in the hot topic of ‘Bullies’ in school and the need of children to accept their differences in life. If you watch some of the signs as the town gets ravaged there are some interesting spelled out messages along the road ways not to mention Mitch’s proclamation to Courtney at the end of the story. A nicely directed adventure fit for the entire family although a bit scary at times in a fun way for the kids this film is a nice entry into the bewitching season that is right around the corner. Being able to relate to the theme of this movie in more ways than one I give it 3 paws out of 4 for its witty ingenuity and well deserved applause. Written and enjoyed by Jon Patch.
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