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16 GAZETTE 20 September 2012

GazetteENTERTAINMENT ENTERTAINMENT Boys and ghouls may like this film I SHANE DILLON

IT’S been a while since I was last at the cinema, so I don’t have any particular expectations of what most films for kids should be like, today. I mean – and this is probably showing my age here – the last time I went to see a kid’s film, I think a young Jodie Foster was running around in it, looking for some place called Witch Mountain

(circa 1873)? There was definitely an intermission in the middle of the film when the red curtains closed, I remember that much. 3D? It was all barely 2D, back then, mate! All of this makes me sound less like a grownup, and more like a dinosaur. Could an old fogey like me truly get to grips with something that’s, y’know, for kids? Well, ParaNorman

(deservedly a Cert PG; 92 mins; starring, oh, John Goodman is just about the biggest name there) is a stop-motion animated film about Norman; an average kid in his sleepy home town. Average, that is, except for the fact that he sees dead people everywhere, and wearily blathers away with amiable ghosts that only he can see, including Uncle Prenderghast (Goodman).

Personally, I’d be using my invisible buddies to ace every test in school, but, alas, Norman’s a nicer kid than me – err, so to speak – as he doesn’t treat his deadly pals with any disrespect. Norman’s pretty normal, otherwise, given his slightly annoying family; the fact that he’s getting bullied a bit at school, and the fact that his town keeps celebrating a witch that it, um, dealt with, 300 years earlier. Now, you don’t suppose that a 300-year-dead witch and a boy who chats away to spirits from

Spot the odd one out ... Yes, that’s right – it’s Norman, who alone can see dead people everywhere. A handy gift, it turns out, given a town curse that’s about to unfold ...

the afterlife could possibly cross paths, thus fulfilling an ancient curse set upon the town, do you? (Or, in my best ghost-ese: dooooo youuuuu?) It’s not long before dead ol’ witchipoo is back – back, and deader than ever – ready to make up for 300 years of other people partying and celebrating her unfortunate

end, with a load of creepy minions and zombies. (From this point onwards, the film ramps up its intensity a bit, as it gallops headlessly over heels towards that PG rating, making it worth pointing out that you better be sure your little boys and ghouls can handle the film’s grave humour.) It’s down to Norman, his misfit friends, some clueless grown-ups and, of course, his spectral sidekicks – some of whom are dead willing to help – to save the day. Not that it’s going to be that easy, of course ... Actually, the film was fairly entertaining enough, with nothing too awful, so long as you’re clear that your little dar-

lings are going to see a PG film with ghosts, zombies and stuff. (I had to grow up with endless cartoons starring sickly goodie-goodie, Casper The Friendly Ghost, so today’s kids have better luck than me with their entertainment choices.) While stop-motion is something of a dying art, it’s beautifully done, here, crafting a lovely film to look at that, sure, is very much like a Tim Burton story in some parts, yet also has some heart and brains (or, in my zombieese, braiiiinnnnnssss). So, for something a little spooky, and ahead of Halloween’s overkill, I’d say it’s worth an “okay” three stars out of five ...