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Stop-motion animation may be going the way of the corded phone (or the print newspaper), but the studio Laika isn't giving up without a fight.

"ParaNorman" is a sumptuously rendered and freakishly fun monster story for kids that should have been saved for Halloween. Norman (voiced by "The Road's" Kodi Smit-McPhee) is a morose middle-schooler who can talk to ghosts and subsequently doesn't get talked to by many living classmates. But when old crazy Mr. Prenderghast (voiced by John Goodman) bequeaths Norman the role of guarding the town against a vengeful witch, Norman and his only pal, Neil (voiced by Tucker Albrizzi), have to warn townsfolk about an impending zombie invasion.

Directors Sam Fell ("Flushed Away," "The Tale of Despereaux") and Chris Butler (who worked on Laika's "Coraline") bring a cool Gothic atmosphere to the painstaking stop-motion process and draw humor from a voice cast that includes Anna Kendrick, Christopher Mintz-Plesse and Jeff Garlin.; —



Opens Friday, Aug. 17, at theaters everywhere; rated PG for scary action and images, thematic elements, some rude humor and language; 93 minutes. For more movie reviews, visit

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