ParaNorman (2012)

ParaNorman_1Starring Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin, Elaine Stritch, Bernard Hill, Jodelle Ferland, Tempestt Bledsoe, Alex Borstein, John Goodman

Directed by Chris Butler & Sam Fell

Expectations: Fairly low. I’m only watching this because my girlfriend talked me into it.

threehalfstar


The older I get the more I don’t understand adults who like kids’ movies. Well, let me rephrase that. I don’t understand adults who like modern kids’ movies. If you have kids you get a pass because you’re going to see them anyway, so you might as well grow a taste for them. But I don’t have kids, so enjoying or even bothering with modern kids’ movies makes no sense to me. They’re clearly not for me, they’re for kids. So good riddance, and thanks but no thanks. But every once in a while, one comes around that even I can’t ignore, and ParaNorman is one of those films. And it’s a whole lot of fun no matter your age, especially if you enjoy horror films.

ParaNorman is about a kid named Norman (who woulda thought?) who can see ghosts. He’s labeled a freak by his classmates, and even his own father berates him on a regular basis. Norman, on the other hand, enjoys his gift, it’s just how everyone else reacts to it that gets him down. Funnily enough, Norman’s town has a history of persecuting those with a supernatural gift. There was once a witch who lived there, but the townspeople took care of her in the way that everyone took care of witches in the 18th century. And because this is a horror movie, the witch cursed the town and tonight’s the night that everything comes together for the curse’s realization.

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Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)

safety-not-guaranteed-poster1Starring Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson, Karan Soni, Jenica Bergere, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Kristen Bell, Jeff Garlin, William Hall Jr.

Directed by Colin Trevorrow

Expectations: Moderately high.

threestar


It would be easy to screw up a film based on something as flimsy as a classified ad, but Safety Not Guaranteed not only succeeds, it enchants. In 1997, an ad appeared in Backwoods Home Magazine that read as follows:

“Wanted: Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. P.O. Box … You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before.”

Now you see why I had to see this film. Not only is that one of the greatest ads I’ve ever read, it’s such an incredible film premise. Unfortunately, the ad isn’t real (it was written by the magazine’s senior editor), but in the world of Safety Not Guaranteed the premise is taken seriously. Well… as serious as a movie with such an absurd premise can be. There’s lots of comedy throughout the film, too, but unlike a lot of “dramedies,” Safety Not Guaranteed is actually compelling on both levels.

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