(On Cable TV, April 2013) I’ll be honest: there is little in the first half-hour of the film that I found pleasing or interesting. Taking inspiration from the same goth-grotesque vein often tapped by early-era Tim Burton, ParaNorman first shows up with a deliberately ugly aesthetics sense, standard loner-protagonist tropes and cookie-cutter screenwriting. It’s not badly made, but it’s not immediately compelling. Fortunately, things do improve once the required pieces are put in place and before knowing it, the aesthetics of the film aren’t a problem, the character relationships take a life of their own and the film moves toward acquired emotional strengths. Heck; by the end of the film, I found myself unexpectedly moved by the resolution of the antagonist’s plotline, and cheering along the plucky band of heroes as they faced against an intolerant mob. Initial doubts aside, ParaNorman is an impressive piece of work, fully exploiting digital innovation in order to deliver top-quality stop-motion animation. The heart of the script is at the right place despite the sometimes-grotesque imagery, and the result is the kind of young-teen kids’ film that any parent should be glad to put on the family playlist.